HealthONE - January 25, 2018

You may already tell your kids to drink their milk and eat other foods for stronger bones, but bone density is also an important women’s health issue. A condition that makes your bones thin and brittle—and thus susceptible to breaks—osteoporosis is especially common in postmenopausal women. In fact, roughly 30 percent of women in the U.S. who have gone through menopause also have osteoporosis, and 40 percent of women affected will suffer at least one fracture. You can’t control some osteoporosis risk factors like age, gender, natural bone density or a family history of the disease, but you can control your diet.

Feed strong bones

Your body is made up of 206 bones that are under the constant strain of gravity and continually regenerate just to keep up. In fact, bone cells turn over so often that the skeleton of a young person will have completely different cells every four years. Because bone density—the amount of calcium and other minerals that are in your bones—peaks in your 20s or 30s, it’s crucial to maintain a bone-healthy diet as you get older. When you eat foods rich in calcium, and vitamin D to help your body absorb it, you can increase bone density and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Eat calcium-rich foods

Depending on your age, most adults need around 1,000-1,300 milligrams of calcium per day. Eat plenty of these calcium-rich foods that help osteoporosis to get your daily allowance:

  • An eight-ounce glass of milk (300 milligrams of calcium)
  • Six ounces of yogurt (250 milligrams of calcium)
  • One ounce of hard cheese (195-335 milligrams of calcium)
  • Half a cup of cottage cheese (130 milligrams of calcium)
  • One half-cup serving of ice cream (100 milligrams of calcium)
  • An eight-ounce glass of soy milk (300 milligrams of calcium)
  • Half a cup of cooked beans (60-80 milligrams of calcium)
  • Half a cup of cooked dark, leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach (50-135 milligrams of calcium)
  • A serving of other calcium-fortified foods like orange juice, tofu and breakfast cereal

Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium when you eat foods that help osteoporosis. Sunlight is actually the best source of vitamin D, and you only need 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week to reap the benefits. You can also supplement your vitamin D intake with the following foods to get the recommended 600-800 IUs per day:

  • A piece of salmon (447 IUs of vitamin D)
  • A serving of swordfish (566 IUs of vitamin D)
  • A can of tuna (154 IUs of vitamin D)
  • An egg (41 IUs of vitamin D)
  • A glass of fortified milk (115-124 IUs of vitamin D)
  • A glass of fortified orange juice (137 IUs of vitamin D)

Pump some iron

Along with diet, performing weight-bearing exercises helps build strong bones. Try resistance exercises along with regular walking and running to challenge your bones with weight and gravity to make them both thicker and stronger.

Contact one of our orthopedics specialists to learn more about osteoporosis.