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August 15, 2011

Bone Health Monday

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in two Americans ages 50 years or older will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis or low bone mass by 2020.

Osteoporosis, a condition of having weak bones that are more susceptible to breakage, used to be considered an unavoidable disease that comes with age. However, research shows several key factors can strengthen your bones and thereby lower your risk for osteoporosis.

While older Caucasian women are the most likely to get osteoporosis, men and women of all races can get osteoporosis.

A healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and vitamin D (found in fortified foods, oily fish, eggs, supplements, and from sun exposure) provides the building blocks for strong bones. Calcium-rich foods include:

For the National Academy of Science's recommended adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D for your age and gender, visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium/ and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind/.

Weight-bearing activity, during which your feet, legs, or arms support your body's weight, is another essential component to maintaining bone health. This allows your muscles to push against your bones, consequently strengthening them. Walking, running, jumping rope, tennis, basketball, dancing, hiking, soccer, and weight-lifting are all great examples of bone-strengthening activities.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults receive at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you are over the age of 50, discuss with your doctor whether bone density testing to screen for osteoporosis is appropriate for you.

Avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol drinking, and high salt consumption are also key strategies to keeping your bones strong and healthy.

For more information on bone health and preventing osteoporosis, visit http://www.nof.org or http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/calcium.html.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.