Preventing Osteoporosis Through Diet And Exercise

February 28, 2008

Loss of bone mass, or osteoporosis, is a common part of the aging process that may affect as many as 25 percent of all women over the age of 65. As osteoporosis progresses, bones become thin and weak, making them increasingly susceptible to fracture. Fortunately, by making sure that you get adequate amounts of calcium and by doing regular weight-bearing exercises through-out life, you can strengthen your bones and even prevent loss of bone mass as you age.

Calcium: How Much?

Calcium is a mineral found in highest concentration in the human body and, with phosphorous, is important in forming bone tissue. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in the body is in the bones.

Before menopause, women need approximately 800-1,000 mg. of calcium per day (the amount found in about 4-5 glasses of milk). After menopause, women may need as much as 1,200 mg. of calcium per day. Excellent sources of calcium are dairy products, broccoli, tofu, and canned salmon with bones. (If you cannot tolerate dairy products, your physician can recommend a supplement to ensure adequate calcium, the body also requires vitamin D found in fortified milk, multi-vitamin pills or from 30-60 minutes of sunshine).

Exercise: What Kind?

Like muscles, bones become thicker and stronger with use. That is why weight-bearing exercises such as walking or jogging are an important part of preventing osteoporosis. Try to do some form of weight-bearing exercise for a minimum of 20-30 minutes, at least 3 times a week. In addition to weight-bearing exercise, conditioning exercises are useful to help strengthen the muscles that support the skeletal system. Try alternating muscle-strengthening with weight-bearing exercises to round out your exercise plan

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