Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects both men and women, usually as they grow older. The disease often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort, until a fracture occurs. It is characterized by a loss of bone mass and a change in bone structure. As bones grow weaker and more brittle they become more susceptible to fractures, which can often be debilitating.
There are a number of measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. To maintain strong, healthy bones:
- Make sure there is enough calcium in your diet. Women need 1000 mg of calcium per day (1500 mg for women if you are postmenopausal).
- Make sure there is enough Vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and also helps to maintain muscle strength. Women should get 400IU per day (600-800 IU per day after age 60).
- Engage in regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise. The risk of osteoporosis is lower for women who are active, and especially for those who engage in weight-bearing activities at least three times a week.
- Eliminate lifestyle choices that increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse can contribute to a loss of bone mass.