10.2 million adults have osteoporosis, while 43.4 million have low bone mass: over 50% of the total U.S. adult population are currently affected, the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports. Osteoporosis (“porous bone”) is a disease that weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to breaking. Most people reach peak bone mass by age 30, after which bone mass is lost faster than it’s created. Fortunately, however, it’s possible to keep your bones strong and healthy and reduce your risk of osteoporosis as you age.
Consuming enough calcium is key for minimizing your risk of fracture. 1,000 milligrams daily is the recommended amount for women age 50 and under and men 70 and under. Women over 50 and men over 70 should aim for 1,200 milligrams a day. There are plenty of calcium-rich foods to choose from: 1 cup cooked kale has 100mg; ½ cup white beans has 81 mg; and fortified foods, breakfast cereals and orange juice can have up to 1,000 mg per serving. Additionally, Vitamin D is important to help the calcium absorb and incorporate into your bones. 600 IU is recommend daily for those 70 and younger, and 800 IU daily for over 70s.
Regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise will improve your bone density as you age. By putting stress on your bones, calcium production is stimulated, which helps create stronger, denser bones. For example, weight-bearing aerobic exercise includes activities like walking, dancing, and low-impact aerobics. It’s particularly important for strengthening the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine, and preventing mineral loss.
If you have osteoporosis, a balanced diet and exercise will help slow down additional bone loss and reduce fracture risk. Your doctor may also recommend medication, depending on the extent of your bone loss and treatment goals. For example, Raloxifene is a pill taken once daily that’s proven to reduce spine fractures by 30%. Future treatments may also include osteoanabolic agents, also called SARMS (selective androgen receptor modulators). SARMs are proven to protect bone health and slow down osteoporosis. However, research into the safest and most effective anabolic agent to treat the disease with minimal side effects is still ongoing.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease affecting many people. Fortunately, with a calcium-rich diet and regular exercise, it’s possible to strengthen your bones, reduce fracture risk, and improve quality of life.