Osteoporosis is a gradual and progressive disease of the bones that causes the bone mass to become thin, weak, and brittle. Because of low bone density, even a minor fall or mild stressful movements such as bending or coughing can cause a fracture. Fractures due to osteoporosis most commonly occur in the hip, wrist, or spine.
In addition, the complications of osteoporosis can be debilitating. You should, therefore, take steps to prevent osteoporosis from an early age. You can do it naturally and does not require any medical intervention.
Women after menopause are especially prone to develop weak bones. They should therefore take special care to adopt these ways to prevent osteoporosis. They help to slow down bone loss and build up bone density.
Osteoporosis is fairly common. About 54 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis and fifty percent of women in the U.S. of age 50 or more develop an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
You cannot avoid some risk factors that make you prone to developing osteoporosis. They can include your genes, age, and sex. Women especially after menopause become very prone to developing osteoporosis. For them, it becomes vital that they follow the measures described below to prevent osteoporosis.
However, despite that, you can take measures at any age to prevent osteoporosis and the weakening of your bones. The best natural way to do it is to eat the right foods and do the prescribed exercises.
Preventing osteoporosis involves eating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D and exercising regularly with weight-bearing exercises, such as weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.
From a young age, both men and women should adopt ways to prevent osteoporosis. They include:
- Have a healthy and bone-friendly diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
- Eat calcium-rich foods
- Expose yourself daily to sunlight to absorb enough vitamin D
- Do not smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Limit caffeine
- Be regular in doing weight-bearing and strength-training exercises
Diet for healthy bones
Along with other nutrients, make sure your diet contains the right amounts of the following nutrients. Read the full note on the osteoporosis diet.
Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis
Your daily calcium requirement varies and depends on your sex and age.
- Men and women – aged 19 to 50 years – 1000 mg
- Men – 71 years and older 1200 mg
- Women – 51 years and older – 1200 mg
You should try to get this daily intake recommendation through your diet. If not, you can take calcium supplements.
You can get your calcium from the calcium-rich foods such as:
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Fruit juices fortified with calcium
- Fortified cereal, soy milk, and tofu
- Fish like sardines and salmon
- Dark green vegetables, like kale and broccoli
Adults shouldn’t consume more than 2,000 mg of calcium per day, because excess calcium in the blood can cause side effects and complications.
Side effects include upset stomach, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Complications include weakened bones, kidney stones, and interference with heart and brain function.
Vitamin D strengthens your bones by helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, two key minerals essential for bone health.
Daily exposure to late morning sun for about 15 to 20 minutes can give you your daily vitamin D requirement.
However, for many of us, this may not be possible due to indoor living lifestyle, use of sunscreen, seasonal changes, etc.
Again, it may be difficult to get sufficient vitamin D from our regular foods without eating fortified foods or taking a supplement.
You should try to get your daily requirement of vitamin D to maintain good bone health. Your goal should be:
- 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day if you are 70 or younger
- 800 IU if you are 71 or older
Not many foods naturally have enough vitamin D, but you can get it in:
- Fish, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks
- Fortified milk, cereal, and orange juice
Women should take supplements because they usually don’t get enough sunlight exposure.
In addition to calcium and vitamin D, studies have shown that eating protein increases bone mineral density and helps to prevent osteoporosis. The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.
It is a key nutrient for maintaining bone health. It makes up roughly 50% of the bone volume and about one-third of its mass.
It gives the bones in the body their strength and flexibility. It is also the building block of your muscles. Studies show that eating adequate amounts of protein builds promotes muscle growth when you exercise.
A good regular intake of protein increases muscle mass. This stretches the collagen fibers and the periosteum resulting in stimulation of bone growth.
Make sure your diet contains enough protein-rich foods. Animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy foods are good sources of complete protein, while plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds tend to lack one or more of the essential amino acids.
Exercise to prevent osteoporosis
To maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis, you should start exercising as early in life as possible. It is good for all-around health, as well. It builds bone health by stimulating the cells responsible for building bones.
For this to happen, you need to do weight-bearing and resistance exercises at least 4 days a week.
- Weight-bearing exercises focus on moving the weight of your body against gravity. Examples walking, running, dancing, aerobics, hiking, and tennis.
- Resistance exercises involve the use of an opposite force, such as weights, an elastic band, or water, to strengthen your muscles and build bone. Strong muscles and good balance may also help you avoid falls or minimize injury.
- Stability and balance exercises help your muscles work together in coordination and keep your body more stable. They improve your stability and balance and you are less likely to fall. Fall prevention is important for people with osteoporosis because of their strong risk of fractures. Examples include simple exercises such as standing on one leg or movement-based exercises such as tai chi.
Read the full article on best and worst exercises for osteoporosis
Natural prevention: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
The lifestyle choices you make early on in life can affect your bone health in the later years of your life. To prevent osteoporosis and maintain good bone health, consider making the following adjustments to your lifestyle. These tips will help women to prevent osteoporosis, especially after menopause.
- Quit smoking
- Keep alcohol consumption within safe limits
- Avoid carbonated beverages
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Eat a well-balanced and bone-friendly diet
- Stay active
Best supplements to prevent osteoporosis
You may require to take supplements if your diet isn’t sufficient to keep your bones strong. However, it’s important that you talk to your doctor first. He will help you decide on the best supplement for your bones. If you are not deficient in a particular nutrient, taking its supplement may cause harm.
Supplements should contain vitamins and minerals that help to slow down bone loss and build bone density.
Such vitamins include vitamins D and K. Minerals include calcium and magnesium.
Research has found that vitamin K helps to improve the remodeling of bone. Vitamin K deficiency can lower bone mineral density and increase the risk of fractures, especially in women.
Vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people but also actually reduce fracture rates. Further vitamins K and D form a classic combination in bone metabolism and they both work synergistically to improve bone density.
Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to the bone thereby helping in building bone strength. The recommended daily dose of vitamin K is 150mcg.
Magnesium is also vital for healthy bones. Almost 60% of the body’s stores of magnesium are stored in bone tissue.
People with higher magnesium intake have a better bone density, which reduces the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Therefore, ensure that you get your quota of magnesium from foods or dietary supplements. This will especially help older women improve their bone mineral density.
However, further research needs to be done to better understand whether magnesium supplements can help prevent osteoporosis.