5 Ways to Protect Your Bone Health
You might think of your bones as solid inside. But they’re actually filled with lots of little holes like a honeycomb. Over time, the holes get bigger, making the bones less dense. Osteoporosis occurs when you lose so much bone density that your bones become weak and break easily.
Your risk of getting osteoporosis increases with age. The condition is particularly common in older women. Long-term use of certain medicines, such as corticosteroids and some anti-seizure drugs, also raises your risk. So does having an illness or disability that keeps you from being physically active for a long time.
But taking good care of your bones can help them stay stronger. Here’s what to do:
1. Get a bone density test. This test is painless, similar to having an X-ray. All women older than age 65 should have their bone density checked, and some men may get the test as well. This test may be repeated every two years (or more often, if necessary).
2. Consume calcium and vitamin D. Good sources of calcium include low-fat milk and dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals. Vitamin D is found in fortified milk, saltwater fish, and egg yolks.
3. Engage in weight-bearing exercise. Examples include walking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, playing tennis, and weight training.
4. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol. Long-term heavy drinking may cause bone loss. Smoking raises the risk for breaking a bone.
5. Discuss medicine with your doctor. Several medicines are available to help prevent or treat osteoporosis. But not everyone needs them. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.
If you’ve broken a bone recently, it’s especially important to talk with your doctor. Ask whether you should get a bone density test or start taking osteoporosis medicine. Remember, it’s never too early to bone up on your bone health.