Seven Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis
When it comes to osteoporosis, Bayhealth OB-GYN Melisa Edler, MD, says it’s important to recognize prevention starts at any age. “Even young girls and their parents need to be aware,” she said. With that in mind, here are seven ways Dr. Edler says you can prevent osteoporosis.
- Eat a balanced diet to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D. “Milk is a good source of both, since it’s often fortified with vitamin D,” said Dr. Edler. “You can also get calcium from any dairy product, and green, leafy vegetables, orange juice, and some cereals also contain calcium. Check food labels to find the ones that do have calcium.”
- Spend time in the sun. “For vitamin D, you should also spend 10 to 15 minutes out in the sun each day. Sun exposure is how your body produces vitamin D,” explained Dr. Edler.
- For those who can’t get outside or have trouble with the foods that contain calcium and vitamin D, supplements are an option. “While it’s best to get your calcium and vitamin D from diet and lifestyle, taking them in supplement form is better than nothing,” said Dr. Edler. “But it’s very important you stick to the recommended doses because you can overdo it with vitamin D and calcium.” The dosage recommendations for calcium are 1,300 mg per day for those ages 9-18 years old; 1,000 mg per day for those ages 19-50 years old; and 1,200 mg per day for those age 51 years old or older. For vitamin D, the recommended doses are 600 IU per day for those under age 70 and 800 IU per day for anyone age 70 and older.
- Get 30 minutes of daily exercise. “To prevent osteoporosis, you need to do weight-bearing exercise, which puts weight resistance on your bones,” explained Dr. Edler. “Something as simple as walking can help. Another suggestion is to walk with a light set of weights.”
- Quit smoking. Dr. Edler says smoking, and even secondhand smoke, can lower bone density and increase risk of osteoporosis.
- Watch your alcohol consumption. Dr. Edler says while alcohol intake alone doesn’t increase risk of osteoporosis, if you consume three or more alcoholic drinks per day, it can increase your risk.
- Prevent falls. “A couple of suggestions that will help you prevent falls are to use a night light and remove clutter from the floor,” said Dr. Edler.
Dr. Edler says women typically need to be screened for osteoporosis beginning at age 65. “The main osteoporosis screening tool is called a DEXA scan. The results of the initial scan will determine the frequency and need for any future scans, along with the presence of any risk factors,” she explained. She also says if you’re a postmenopausal woman and any of the following apply then you should talk to your doctor about considering earlier screening:
- You weigh less than 127 pounds
- You have a history of a low trauma fracture, which is when you break a bone in a situation you wouldn’t expect to; such as while opening a window
- You take certain medications including steroids
- One of your parents had a history of a hip fracture
- You’re a current smoker
- You suffer with alcoholism
- You have rheumatoid arthritis
Remember, it’s never too early or too late to prevent osteoporosis, and following these recommendations can help you do that. If you need to find a doctor, visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627).