Can I Prevent Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide; but the good news is there are steps you can take to prevent it. This disease weakens your bones by making them porous. If you’ve ever fractured or broken a bone, you’ll understand why preventing this condition is important. Osteoporosis causes approximately 9 million fractures per year, resulting in pain and loss of mobility. However, making a few lifestyle changes can keep osteoporosis from happening to you.

Preventing Osteoporosis: Starting Young

With a little careful planning, you can build up your bone mass at a young age by following these guidelines from the International Osteoporosis Foundation:

  • Eat a nutritious diet, complete with plenty of calcium and protein
  • Maintain your levels of vitamin D
  • Participate in regular activity or exercise
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke

Taking these steps as early as childhood has been shown to increase your bone mass and reduce your adult risk of osteoporotic fracture. Include the following foods in your diet: leafy green produce such as collard greens and kale, seafood, dairy, almonds, and oatmeal. If you don’t like, or can’t eat, foods rich in calcium, protein or vitamin D, speak with your doctor about vitamin supplements.

Preventing Osteoporosis: Over Age 50

A woman’s risk of osteoporosis increases as she ages. By age 60, osteoporosis affects about 10 percent of women worldwide, and this number climbs to 20 percent by age 70. If you’ve been active and sticking to a healthy diet, you’ll want to make one very important addition to your physical exertions when you hit age 50, if not sooner. Add weight-bearing exercises to your exercise regimen. Building muscle mass provides balance and strength and reduces your risk of falling and damaging your bones.

Signs of osteoporosis include loss of height and a curved upper back, called a “Dowager’s Hump.” If you have arthritis, a family history of osteoporosis, or have already fractured or broken a bone, you should be especially mindful of these signs as you get older.

You can prevent osteoporosis with just a few simple lifestyle choices, especially if you start in childhood or adolescence. However, it’s never too late to start eating right, exercising and avoiding cigarette smoke. If you suspect you might be at risk for — or already have — osteoporosis, contact your doctor.

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