How can you prevent osteoporosis?

Your diet and lifestyle are two important risk factors you can control to prevent osteoporosis. Replacing lost estrogen with hormone therapy also provides a strong defense against osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Diet

To maintain strong, healthy bones, you need a diet rich in calcium throughout your life. One cup of skim or 1 percent fat milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium.

Besides dairy products, other good sources of calcium are salmon with bones, sardines, kale, broccoli, calcium-fortified juices and breads, dried figs, and calcium supplements. It is best to try to get the calcium from food and drink.

For those who need supplements, remember that the body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time. You should take your calcium supplements in divided doses, since anything more than 500 mg will not be absorbed.

Recommended daily allowance of calcium

Age and sexAmount
Adults, 19-50 years1,000 mg
Adult men, 51-70 years1,000 mg
Adult women, 51-70 years1,200 mg
Adults, 71 years old and older1,200 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens1,300 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding adults1,000 mg

Vitamin D is also important because it enables the body to absorb calcium. The recommended daily allowances of vitamin D are listed below. Vitamin D can also be obtained from sunlight exposure a few times a week or by drinking fortified milk.

Recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D

People by ageAmount
Infants 0-6 Months400 mg
Infants 6-12 months400 mg
1-3 years old600 mg
4-8 years old600 mg
9-70 years old800 mg
Over 70 years old800 mg
14-50 years old, pregnant/lactating600 mg

Talk with your healthcare provider about these numbers. In some cases, you might be told to take more vitamin D. Your provider might also have suggestions about the calcium type; for instance, you might be told to take calcium citrate instead of calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate does not need acid to work, so it may be a better choice for people who take antacids.

Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the degree of bone loss. Begin a regular exercise program. Exercises that make your muscles work against gravity (such as walking, jogging, aerobics, and weightlifting) are best for strengthening bones.

Do not drink too much alcohol. Do not have excessive amounts of caffeine. Don’t use tobacco at all.

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