Most adults with osteoporosis need to take medicine to slow bone loss. In addition to medicine, there is much you can do to help slow the process and prevent broken bones:
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Getting enough vitamin D, along with sufficient calcium, is one of the first steps toward preventing or reducing the effects of osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is found in many foods, including dairy products such as milk or yogurt. If you think you may not be getting enough calcium in your diet, check with your doctor about taking calcium supplements. For more information, see:
- Osteoporosis: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D.
- Exercise. Recent studies show that weight-bearing exercises (walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or weight lifting), aerobics, and resistance exercises (using weights or elastic bands to help improve muscle strength) are all effective in increasing the bone mineral density and strength of the spine in postmenopausal women. Walking also increases bone mineral density of the hip. Regular exercise throughout life cuts in half the number of hip fractures in older people.10 Create an exercise program that fits your lifestyle and is easy to follow. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
- Eat nutritious foods to keep your body healthy. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
- Take steps to prevent falls that might result in broken bones. Have your vision and hearing checked regularly. And wear slippers or shoes that have nonskid soles. Exercises that improve balance and coordination, such as tai chi, can also reduce your risk of falling. You can also make changes in your home to prevent falls. For more information, see:
- Aging Well: Making Your Home Fall-Proof.
- Limit alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use can decrease bone formation, and it clearly increases the risk of falling. Heavy alcohol use is more than 1 drink a day for women. See pictures of standard alcoholic drinks.
- Stop smoking. Smoking reduces your bone density and speeds up the rate of bone loss. For information on how to stop, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
If you need calcium supplements, experts recommend that you choose calcium supplements that are known brand names with proven reliability. Most brand-name calcium products are absorbed easily by the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action against companies that tout the benefits of coral calcium as a superior source of calcium and a cure for disease. There is no scientific proof to support these claims.