Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to get weaker. With osteoporosis, the bones become thinner, and the normal spaces in bone tissue become larger. This can make the bones weak and cause them to break more easily. People who have osteoporosis are more likely to break their wrist, spine, or hip. Even a minor accident or injury can be enough to break weak bones.

Osteoporosis can occur with aging. Your body constantly replaces old bone tissue with new tissue. As you get older, you may lose bone tissue more quickly, or it may be replaced more slowly. Osteoporosis is more likely to develop if you have poor nutrition or do not get enough calcium or vitamin D. Other lifestyle factors can also play a role. By making some diet and lifestyle changes, you can help to keep your bones healthy and help to prevent osteoporosis.

Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining healthy, strong bones.

  • Make sure you get enough calcium every day from food or from calcium supplements.
    • If you are age 50 or younger, aim to get 1,000 mg of calcium every day.
    • If you are older than age 50, aim to get 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
  • Try to get enough vitamin D every day.
    • If you are age 70 or younger, aim to get 600 international units (IU) every day.
    • If you are older than age 70, aim to get 800 international units every day.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat plenty of foods that contain calcium and vitamin D.
    • Calcium is in milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. Some fish and vegetables are also good sources of calcium. Many foods such as cereals and breads have had calcium added to them (are fortified). Check nutrition labels to see how much calcium is in a food or drink.
    • Foods that contain vitamin D include milk, cereals, salmon, and tuna. Your body also makes vitamin D when you are out in the sun. Bare skin exposure to the sun on your face, arms, legs, or back for no more than 30 minutes a day, 2 times per week is more than enough. Beyond that, it is important to use sunblock to protect your skin from sunburn, which increases your risk for skin cancer.

Making changes in your everyday life can also play an important role in preventing osteoporosis.

  • Stay active and get exercise every day. Ask your health care provider what types of exercise are best for you.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.

Making these nutrition and lifestyle changes can:

  • Help you develop and maintain healthy, strong bones.
  • Prevent loss of bone mass and the problems that are caused by that loss, such as broken bones and delayed healing.
  • Make you feel better mentally and physically.

Problems that can result from osteoporosis can be very serious. These may include:

  • A higher risk of broken bones that are painful and do not heal well.
  • Physical malformations, such as a collapsed spine or a hunched back.
  • Problems with movement.

If you need help making changes to prevent osteoporosis, talk with your health care provider. You can ask for a referral to a diet and nutrition specialist (dietitian) and a physical therapist.

  • Osteoporosis is a condition that causes weak bones that are more likely to break.
  • Eating a healthy diet and making sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Other ways to reduce your risk of osteoporosis include getting regular exercise and avoiding alcohol and products that contain nicotine or tobacco.

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