How to Keep Your Bones Healthy

Osteoporosis causes bones to thin and weaken. With osteoporosis, bone minerals (mainly calcium) are lost, causing bones to become so brittle that they could result in a wrist, hip, or spine fracture.

No matter what your age, you can take steps to prevent bone loss.

Here are some preventative tips developed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons that you should follow during the stages of your life.

Between 10 and 20 Years of Age

Start preventing osteoporosis now by putting calcium deposits in your "bone bank." To make your bones as strong and healthy as possible, you need 1,300 mg of calcium each day. Instead of soft drinks, choose milkā€”at least three 8-oz. glasses each day. You also can choose other foods; for example, dairy products like cheese or green leafy vegetables are other great sources of calcium.

For females, remember that having regular menstrual periods is important to prevent osteoporosis. See a physician if you are older than 16 and have never menstruated or if you have begun to menstruate but have noticed changes in your cycle.

Between 20 and 35 Years of Age

Though you are not forming new bone as readily as before, your bones will reach their peak strength during these years. It is important to get adequate calcium and exercise to help achieve peak bone density. You will need at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Engaging in weightbearing exercises like jogging or walking also will help make your bones stronger.

Between 35 and 50 Years of Age

You may have begun to gradually lose bone. At this stage in your life, getting enough calcium (1,000 mg each day) and exercise are crucial to keep bone loss to a minimum. Most women enter menopause between the ages of 42 and 55. If your period becomes irregular or if you develop signs of menopause, talk with your physician. You also might want to ask about bone density screening examinations.

Older Than 50 Years of Age

For women who have gone through menopause, they may be losing bone at a rate of 1 to 6 percent per year. Ask your physician about the various therapies on the market, and if it is appropriate for you.

Adequate calcium intake and exercise still are important. You should be getting 1,000 mg of calcium each day. If you rarely get out in the sun, vitamin D also may be recommended. Try to walk, jog, or perform a resistance workout for at least 20 minutes, three times a week.

for additional info on How to Keep Your Bones Healthy
Last reviewed: July 2007
Copyright 2007 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons