4 steps to prevent osteoporosis – healthy bones in later life

Your bones have an important job to do. They work with your muscles to make sure you can move and be active but you need to work too to help them to remain healthy and strong as you age.

4 Steps to prevent Osteoporosis

Maintaining healthy bones as you age is crucial to remaining fit, independent and active. Here, we reveal four steps to help prevent osteoporosis.

Did you know that more than “sticks and stones can break your bones?” Statistics show that every two minutes, osteoporosis is causing a fracture and it’s not just women, osteoporosis affects 1 out of 2 men, over the age of 50.  

There are some treatments now available for osteoporosis, but prevention is the only real cure and it’s never too late to start.  Osteoporosis doesn’t just mean discomfort in the event of a broken bone, it can affect your whole way of life.  Statistics from the Royal Osteoporosis Society show that only half the number of people who have hip fractures return to living a normal independent life.  

So how much do I need?

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. It also helps muscles contract, the heart beat, nerves to function, and blood to clot. People who are 19-50 years old need 1000 mg of calcium/day. People who are 51 years old and older need 1200 mg of calcium/day.   

Prevent osteoporosis – What should I eat?

The best sources are from dairy products such as low-fat yogurt, semi-skimmed milk, cheese, sesame seeds, almonds and greens. Vitamin D plays an important role in controlling blood calcium levels and the strengthening of your bones and is obtained from the sun and certain foods such as sunflower seeds, fresh fresh and fish oils.  In the summer, just 10-15 minutes of sun on your hands and face, three times a week, should give you enough vitamin D to last you through the winter so even us Brits can get our annual dose!  

Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth because it helps your body absorb calcium. All adults should consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Good dietary sources are:

  • oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
  • dietary supplements

However, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from foods alone. So, consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

Calcium is also important for maintaining bone health. Adults need 700mg a day, which you should be able to get from your daily diet. Calcium-rich foods include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • dried fruit
  • tofu
  • yoghurt

Maintaining strong bones

Weight bearing physical activity is recommended for building stronger bones. These types of exercises are those in which your feet and legs are bearing you weight. Weight-bearing activities are walking, jogging, dancing, tennis. yoga and Pilates.

Everybody should ensure that their exercise includes:

Weight-bearing exercise with added impact or force. This is physical activity where you are supporting the weight of your own body, so the weight of your body pulls on your skeleton. Include some impact if you can, which could include jogging, aerobics, tennis, dancing, or brisk walking. It’s important to do what you can manage. Even standing regularly for a few minutes is better than long periods sitting or lying down.

Muscle-strengthening exercise. This is any kind of movement where you are working against resistance. This could be a weight in your hand, a resistance band, or your body weight, such as during a press-up. Increase the intensity gradually with stronger resistance bands or heavier weights if you can.

Counter effects

Research has found that cigarette smoking, excessive use of alcohol and coffee have a negative effect on calcium absorption and bone health. Drinking two or more cups of coffee/day is linked with decreased bone density whilst extreme amounts of coffee (10-20 cups/day) can be linked to actual fractures.

Should I see my GP?

The only way to diagnose osteoporosis is through a Bone Mineral Density test which measures the density of your bones. Osteoporosis is known to be a “silent killer” because the thinning of your bones can progress silently until one of them breaks.  This test will help determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, as prevention of a fracture.

It’s never too early and it’s never too late. You can prevent osteoporosis.

For more advice about osteoporosis visit the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

If you found 4 Steps to prevent osteoporosis helpful, you’ll find more health advice for older women on our Health channel.

Sources: Royal Osteoporosis Society, NHS

Tags: , Last modified: June 6, 2022

Written by 4:24 pm Women's Health, Health

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