Although there are some osteoporosis risk factors that cannot be controlled (age and family health history), there are steps you can take to help prevent or at least slow down bone loss and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D, which your body requires to absorb calcium, are an important to help keep bones dense and strong. You can get calcium from foods, supplements, or a combination of the two.

Daily Recommendations

If you use supplements, keep in mind that calcium is best absorbed in individual doses no larger than 500 to 600 milligrams, so it's best for adults to take doses twice or three times per day. See the chart below for the National Institutes of Health's recommendations for daily calcium and vitamin intake.

Age

Calcium

Vitamin D

0 to 6 months

210 mg

200 IU

7 to 12 months

270 mg

200 IU

1 to 3 years

500 mg

200 IU

4 to 8 years

800 mg

200 IU

9 to 18 years

1,300 mg

200 IU

19 to 50 years

1,000 mg

200 IU

51 to 70 years

1,200 mg

400 IU

Over 70 years

1,200 mg

600 IU

Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D

There are several good sources of calcium:

  • Dairy. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are loaded with calcium.
  • Fortified Foods. Certain common foods and beverages are often fortified with calcium as well as vitamin D. They include certain brands of breakfast cereals, juice, and bread. Check the label to see if these nutrients have been added.
  • Leafy Freen Vegetables. Kale, broccoli, okra, collard greens, mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, and turnip greens all contain calcium.

Learn about foods and recipes that build stronger bones.

Weight-Bearing Exercises

Bones need resistance to grow strong, which is why weight-bearing exercises such as strength training are not only good for your muscles, but also your bones. Activities and fitness equipment that help strengthen bone include:

  • free weights
  • weight machines
  • resistance bands, which you can use at the gym, at home, and while traveling
  • walking or jogging
  • dancing
  • low-impact aerobics (elliptical training, swimming, or biking)

Smoking and Drinking

Smoking or drinking alcohol excessively negatively affects bone strength and increases the risk of osteoporosis. It's best to limit alcohol consumption to two drinks per day. A six-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce bottle of beer, or a 1.5 ounce glass of hard liquor are all considered one standard drink.