Here are some ways you can help prevent problems:
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Watch what you eat. Many foods interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which contributes to bone degeneration. Watch your intake of salty foods, oxalic acid (found in plant foods like spinach, rhubarb, beet greens and some beans), caffeine, alcohol and fast foods, which are high in fat, sodium and sugar. On the flip side, make sure you have up to 77 grams of protein a day to build bone mass.
- Exercise. To build strong bones and slow bone loss, make sure you engage in some form of weight-bearing exercise – climbing stairs, walking, jogging or tennis – every day.
- Wear protective gear. Wear a helmet when biking, skiing and roller blading, and throw in padding for your elbows and knees if appropriate.
- Load up on calcium. Adults ages 19 to 50 (and 51 to 70 for men) should have 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) rises to 1,200 mg a day for women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, green leafy vegetables, beans, canned salmon, sardines, shrimp and soy products. If you have trouble getting enough calcium from your diet, ask your primary care physician about calcium supplements.
- Don’t forget vitamin D. Without vitamin D, your body doesn’t absorb the calcium. The RDA of vitamin D for men and women ages 19 to 70 is 600 international units (IU) a day, or 800 IUs for adults age 71 and older. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish (tuna and sardines), egg yolks and fortified milk. You can also stock up on vitamin D by getting outside for some sunshine. If you have trouble getting enough vitamin D, ask your primary care physician about calcium supplements.
- Cut back on smoking and drinking. Two alcoholic drinks a day should be your max.
- Look out for falls. Falling can break a bone but you can check your home for dangers like loose rugs and dim lighting that may cause a fall. Have your vision checked, and boost your balance with classes like yoga or Tai Chi.