How can I 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.

  • Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
  • Adult men 51-70 years: 1,000 mg
  • Adult women 51-70 years: 1,200 mg
  • Adults 71 years and older: 1,200 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding teens: 1.300 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding adults: 1,000 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.

  • Infants 0-6 Months: 400 mg
  • Infants 6-12 months: 400 mg
  • 1-3 years old: 600 mg
  • 4-8 years old: 600 mg
  • 9-70 years old: 800 mg
  • Over 70 years old: 800 mg
  • 14-50 years old pregnant/lactating: 600 mg

Please ask your doctor for more detailed handouts to learn about getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D. In some cases, your doctor might recommend higher doses of vitamin D.

Lifestyle — Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the degree of bone loss. Begin a regular exercise program, and don’t use too much alcohol and tobacco. Exercises that make your muscles work against gravity (such as walking, jogging, aerobics, and weightlifting) are best for strengthening bones.

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