Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, making them extremely susceptible to fractures. The risk of developing osteoporosis depends on two main things: how much bone mass you attain between the ages of 25 and 35, and how rapidly you lose that bone mass later. There are three main factors that keep your bones healthy and prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis: regular exercise, sufficient quantities of calcium and high amounts of vitamin D. You should also avoid smoking and limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.
The amount of calcium your body requires changes over your lifetime. The body needs the most calcium during childhood and adolescence, when the bones of the skeleton are growing rapidly. Your body also needs high amounts of calcium during pregnancy and breast-feeding. As the body ages, it becomes less able to absorb calcium, which often leads to osteoporosis. Older men and women need to be especially conscious of their calcium intake, especially because many medications further interfere with the absorption of calcium. Calcium can be found in a variety of sources, including dairy products, almonds, kale, broccoli, oats and tofu. Calcium supplements, which are taken in pill form, are also helpful.
Vitamin D helps the bones become more efficient at absorbing calcium, which in turn improves the overall health of the bones. Speak with your doctor regarding the proper daily dosage of vitamin D for your body, although most doctors recommend taking up to 2,000 IU (International Units) per day. Most people receive enough vitamin D just from their exposure to sunlight, which is absorbed directly through the skin. However, for people who spend little time outdoors or use high amounts of sunscreen, vitamin D supplements might be necessary to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Vitamin D can also be found in tuna, sardines and egg yolks.
Not only does exercise help make your bones stronger, but it also slows the process of bone loss. Exercise at any point in your life will benefit your bones. However, to prevent osteoporosis, it is best to begin exercising at a young age and continue exercising throughout the rest of your life. It is important to combine strength-training exercises with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training will make the bones and muscles in your arms and upper spine stronger. These exercises include lifting weights and doing push-ups. Weight-bearing exercises improve the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. These exercises include walking, jogging, dancing, climbing stairs and skiing.