Healthy Bones: Simple Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis

By , MD, Virtua Rheumatology

Bones play critical roles in our bodies. They provide our structure, anchor muscles and tissues, protect our organs, and store calcium. Without bones, we’d basically be a blob of skin and guts on the floor.

Every day, our bodies break down old bone and put new bone in its place. When we’re younger, we make bone faster than break it down. But once we hit our 30s, our bone density begins to decline, putting us at risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which our bones become weak and brittle. Women are more prone to osteoporosis, but men are also at risk for age-related fractures later in life. 

The sooner you take steps to slow the process and maintain the bone mass you have now, the better. Here’s how:

Lift weights. Strength training and weight-bearing exercise stimulate new bone growth and maintain a healthy weight. Weight-bearing exercise includes running, jogging, walking, dancing, climbing stairs and tennis. Elastic resistance bands, free weights (lifting bags of groceries can work just as well as dumbbells), push-ups, and squats also help build bone strength. Work different muscle groups in your body to stimulate growth in all your bones. 

Get enough calcium and vitamin D. These minerals are important to keep your bones strong and healthy. Be sure to include in your diet low- or fat-free dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, tofu, dark green vegetables (like kale and broccoli), fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and cheese. 

Eat a heart-healthy diet. A Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and whole grains is good for your overall health. Olive oil, a component of a Mediterranean diet, and probiotics (found in foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and in supplement form) have been found to help reduce bone loss, although more research needs to be done to establish their role.

Don’t smoke. Smoking doubles your chance of bone loss and fracture.

Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. 

Get a bone density test. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan for all women age 65 and older. Your doctor may recommend a DEXA scan if you are younger than 65 and have a higher risk for osteoporosis.

Remember, caring for your bones is like investing money for retirement—you can never start too early!  

To make an appointment for your DEXA scan, call 888-847-8823 (888-VIRTUA-3).

Updated September 23, 2020

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