Did you know that over 28 million Americans suffer from bone loss? Or that more women die from complications of osteoporotic bone fractures than die from breast cancer each year? Women are particularly susceptible to bone loss, which can begin as early as age 35. And while women are at greater risk, men suffer from bone loss, too. With bone loss comes the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes the skeleton to weaken and the bones to become brittle and break.

One out of every three women over the age of 40 suffers bone loss to some degree, so bone health is important, particularly as we age. Most of us know by now that calcium-rich foods are important to bone health, but exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is just as important. It is also important to make sure you get enough Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. Here are some things you can do now to help keep your bones strong.

  • Eat nutrient-rich foods that are high in calcium. These include dairy products such as low-fat yogurt (448 mg/cup), but also foods such as tofu, dark leafy greens, beans, and almonds.
  • The RDA of Vitamin D is 600 IU for most adults, 800 IU for those over 70. Foods high in this vitamin include salmon, tuna fish, low-fat, Vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt, and eggs.
  • The RDA for calcium for adults under 50 is 1,000 mg; for women over 50, it is 1,200 mg. If you suspect you are not getting enough calcium in the foods you eat, it may be important to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements, so check with your physician.
  • Exercise is important, both weight-bearing exercise and resistance training. Both types of exercise build and maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise that requires you to hold up your body weight – brisk walking, hiking, yoga, racquet sports. Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands, even your own body weight, are forms of strength training. With strength training, you are working against resistance to stress a sequence of muscles and bones. This stress, in turn, stimulates bone growth and helps build density.

Having a strong skeletal structure has a direct impact on your posture, your energy level, and your sense of wellbeing. Your bones are living tissue, and in a constant state of renewal so begin where you are. A healthy diet and the right exercise program can significantly reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis, and keep you strong for years to come.