An estimated 10 million people in the United States over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis and an additional 34 million are at risk for this disease. Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and density. This places individuals who suffer from osteoporosis at risk for severe and debilitating fractures and a lower quality of life as they age. There are some lifestyle and dietary factors that you can control to decrease your risk of osteoporosis and we’re here to share our recommendations for healthy bones as you age.

Controllable Lifestyle & Dietary Factors

  • Include foods in your diet that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps to build bone and vitamin D aids in maintaining bone strength and health. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, and is added to milk, soy milk, and some cereals. Your skin also makes vitamin D from exposure to the sun, but due to the increased risk of skin cancer from this, it’s encouraged to get the majority of your vitamin D from other sources. Dairy products are high in calcium, some non-dairy products have added calcium in them. While you can get your daily calcium intake from supplements, it’s recommended to get as much of your daily intake of calcium from food sources, if possible.
  • An active lifestyle can decrease your risk for osteoporosis. Including the following, high-impact exercises into your days can help to build and maintain your bone mass: 
    • Running
    • Weight-lifting
    • Hiking
    • Dancing
  • Cut down on cigarettes and alcohol consumption. Research indicates that smoking decreases bone mass and increases your risk of osteoporosis, just as too much alcohol can contribute to the decrease of bone mass. 

There are several other factors that may put you at risk for osteoporosis, however, these aren’t controllable factors. 

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • Age. The older you get, the more your risk for osteoporosis increases.
  • Being female. Osteoporosis affects women more than men.
  • Body frame. If you’re naturally on the thin and small side, you have less bone mass naturally. This puts you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Ethnicity. Those who are Caucasian or of Asian descent have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Genetics. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you’re at a higher risk of developing it. 

By making some important lifestyle changes, you may be able to decrease your risk significantly of developing osteoporosis. If you lead an active lifestyle, include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D in your diet, and cut down on cigarettes and alcohol, you can promote healthy bones as you age. Take these steps to play an active role in promoting your health as you age.