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Prevention of Osteoporosis (cont.)

Nutrition and Osteoporosis Prevention

Eating the right foods is essential for good nutrition. Our bodies need the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is important for strong bones as well as for proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. The best way to get enough calcium and vitamin D is through a balanced diet.

A diet high in calcium

Not getting enough calcium during a lifetime significantly increases the risk of developing osteoporosis and is associated with low bone mass, rapid bone loss, and broken bones. A diet high in calcium is important (see Osteoporosis and Calcium). Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream; dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens, and spinach; sardines and salmon with bones; tofu; almonds; and foods with added calcium, such as orange juice, cereals, soy products, and breads. Calcium supplements and vitamins are also available.

Recommended Calcium Intake by the National Academy of Sciences (1997)
Age mg/day
Birth-6 months 210
6 months-1 year 270
1-3 years 500
4-8 years 800
9-13 years 1,300
14-18 years 1,300
19-30 years 1,000
31-50 years 1,000
51-70 years 1,200
70 years or older 1,200
Pregnant or lactating See ages above

A diet high in vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for the body to absorb calcium from the diet. Without enough vitamin D, the body is unable to absorb calcium from the foods that are eaten, and the body has to take calcium from the bones, making them weaker. Vitamin D comes from two sources. It is made in the skin through direct exposure to sunlight, and it comes from the diet. Many people get enough vitamin D naturally. Vitamin D is also found in fortified dairy products, egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. However, vitamin D production decreases with age, in people who are housebound, with the use of sunscreens, and during the winter when sun exposure is decreased. In these cases, people may need vitamin D supplements to ensure a daily intake of 400-800 IU of vitamin D.

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