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Osteoporosis: Dealing Day-to-Day

Reviewed By: Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA

Physical activity and nutrition are two of the best ways for people to prevent or cope with osteoporosis.

Generally, it is recommended that people consume 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day until age 50. After menopause, women should consume 1,000 mg daily if they are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and 1,500 mg daily if they are not taking HRT. Men over age 50 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, dark green vegetables, canned salmon, soy products, nuts and calcium-fortified products such as some brands of orange juice.

It's important to get enough vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium. Good sources include milk, eggs, fatty fish and cereal. Sunlight on the skin also produces vitamin D.

Exercise can increase bone strength and density. This helps protect people from osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that most often affects women after menopause but is also common in elderly men. People who strengthen their bones at a younger age are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis later in life. People already diagnosed with osteoporosis can still strengthen their bones through weight-bearing exercise such as walking.

Weight-bearing exercises are particularly important for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. They involve strengthening exercises or some cardio exercises in which muscles and bones work against gravity. Walking, pushups and soccer are examples of weight-bearing exercise. Swimming, water aerobics, and many chair exercises are not, although they have other health benefits and may be recommended if an individual's condition rules out weight-bearing exercise.

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