Building strong bones, especially before the age of 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.
Calcium is needed for the heart, muscles and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium is thought to contribute to the development of osteoporosis. National nutrition surveys have shown that many women and young girls consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to grow and maintain healthy bones.
According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and adults age 50 and over need 1,200 mg of calcium daily. If you have difficulty getting enough calcium from the foods you eat, you may take a calcium supplement to make up the difference.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, you will be unable to absorb calcium from the foods you eat, and your body will have to take calcium from your bones. Vitamin D comes from two sources: through the skin following direct exposure to sunlight and from the diet. According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily, and adults age 50 and over need 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. There are two types of vitamin D supplements. They are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Previous research suggested that vitamin D3 was a better choice than vitamin D2. However, more recent studies show that vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 are equally good for bone health. Vitamin D3 is also called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D2 is also called ergocalciferol. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and supplements.
Exercise can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Exercise will benefit your bones no matter when you start, but you’ll gain the most benefits if you start exercising regularly when you’re young and continue to exercise throughout your life. Combine strength training exercises with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, skiing and impact-producing sports — mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. Swimming, cycling and machines such as elliptical trainers can provide a good cardiovascular workout, but because they’re low impact, they’re not as helpful for improving bone health as weight-bearing exercises are.
Smoking increases bone loss, perhaps by decreasing the amount of estrogen a woman’s body makes and by reducing the absorption of calcium in your intestine. The effects on bone of secondhand smoke aren’t yet known.
Medications for Prevention and Treatment
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, currently bisphosphonates (alendronate, ibandronate and risedronate), calcitonin, estrogens, parathyroid hormone and raloxifene are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis.
Boned Density Test
A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. Since osteoporosis can develop undetected for decades until a fracture occurs, early diagnosis is important.
A BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a special type of test that is accurate, painless and noninvasive.