The body is a magical thing. It constantly absorbs and restores bone tissue. With osteoporosis, the body cannot keep up with this process as old bone is being removed. Most people don't know they have osteoporosis until they sustain a bone fracture because symptoms can be so mild. Women are at higher risk than men to developing osteoporosis due to a critical hormone in bone production, estrogen, which reduces in women after menopause. The good news is that we can take two simple steps to prevent or lessen the effects of osteoporosis.
STEP 1: CONSUME YOUR CALCIUM
Calcium is the cornerstone of strong bones. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams per day. Beginning at age 51, women need 1,200 milligrams every day, and when men hit 71, they need to hit that mark, too. Where can you get it? Eating calcium rich foods, or taking a calcium supplement. We believe the best way to get enough calcium in your diet is by eating the right foods, but for some, it may be easier to consume calcium in supplement form.
Calcium Rich Foods:
- Dairy like milk, yogurt and cheese
- Dairy Alternatives like almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and rice milk
- Canned sardines
- Salmon and other soft-bone fish
- Leafy green vegetables like collard greens, kale, bok choy, and spinach
Need more options? Look for “calcium-fortified” on your favorite juices, breads, cereals, oatmeals and snack foods!
Calcium carbonate should be taken with a meal while calcium citrate, can be taken on an empty or full stomach. You should wait 4 to 6 hours between doses and should not consume more than 500 milligrams of calcium at one time.
Expert Tip! Consume sources of Vitamin D and Vitamin C to increase absorption of calcium. How? Pair broccoli with cheese or fruit with yogurt to consume Vitamin C with your calcium. If you take a supplement, try salmon over a leafy green salad to get both vitamins C and D with your calcium. A glass of vitamin D-fortified milk is another great way to get calcium in your diet. Not only does it pair calcium with vitamin D, but the lactase in the milk even helps your body absorb the calcium.
STEP 2: GET MOVING!
It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises force your body to resist gravity and stimulate cells in the body that make new bone. Simple strength training also results in increased bone strength by causing the muscles to pull on the bone. Incorporating in some strength training also helps to increase flexibility and reduce the likelihood of falling—the #1 risk factor for hip fracture!
Expert Tip! Your bone health can be impacted by several factors. Here are some bone robbers to avoid:
- Cigarettes: Smoking doubles the chance of bone loss and fractures by reducing the effectiveness of the body’s estrogen.
- Cola drinks: Some findings show that colas, more than other carbonated soft drinks, contribute to bone loss. It may be that the extra phosphorus in cola drinks binds with calcium and prevents it from being absorbed in the body. Or it may just be that women are replacing calcium-rich drinks, such as milk, with cola.
- Alcohol: Drinking more than 2-3 drinks per day can actually lead to bone loss!
- Caffeine: Limit the amount of coffee, tea, and soda you drink — they might make it hard for your body to absorb calcium.
- Sodium: If you get too much of it, your body may lose calcium. Try to keep your sodium under 2,400 mg a day. Keep track by reading nutrition labels on boxes, cans and bottles.
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