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Preventing Osteoporosis

The older you get, the more likely you are to get osteoporosis, especially if you’re a woman who’s already been through menopause. Other things that can put you at risk for osteoporosis include:

  • A family history of osteoporosis.
  • Being over the age of 60.
  • Being white or of Asian descent.
  • Having a small frame (being thin).

Osteoporosis can cause your bones to become brittle and break easily. Seniors are at an even greater risk for broken bones, as they’re also more prone to falls. So it’s important to keep your bones healthy as you age.

There are two main things you can do to prevent osteoporosis:

1. Exercise. Exercise not only strengthens your muscles, but also your bones. Combine weight-bearing exercises, which strengthen your lower body, with strength-training exercises, which strengthen your upper body.

Weight bearing exercises include things like:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Aerobics
  • Tennis
  • Dancing
  • Stair climbing

Strength-training exercises may include:

  • Weight lifting
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Use of bands

Balance exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, can also help prevent falls.

2. Eat a diet that’s rich in Calcium & Vitamin D. Calcium builds strong bones, and Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Many seniors don’t get enough of these nutrients to prevent osteoporosis.

  • Calcium. If you’re a woman over the age of 50, or a man over the age of 70, you need at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. Good dietary sources include:
    • Low-fat dairy products (e.g., milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese)
    • Leafy-green vegetables (e.g., spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce)
    • Canned fish with soft bones (e.g., sardines, salmon)
    • Calcium-enriched foods or drinks (e.g., cereals, fruit juices)
    • Soy products
  • Vitamin D. There are three ways to get Vitamin D:
    • Sunlight. To get enough Vitamin D from the sunlight, you need to go out in the mid-day sun for about 10 minutes each day with your skin exposed (e.g., shorts and a tank top). That might not be very practical during winter in Topeka, Lawrence, or Olathe.
    • Diet. There are lots of foods that are fortified with Vitamin D these days, including milk, yogurt, cereals, and fruit juices. There’s also Vitamin D in certain types of fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, mackerel), and there are small amounts in liver, eggs, and cheese.
    • Supplements. According to the AARP, If you’re a senior who’s under the age of 71, you’ll need to take 600IU of Vitamin D daily. If you’re 71 or older, you’ll need 800.
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