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Johns Hopkins Health - Build Your Bones

Winter 2015
Issue No. 27

Build Your Bones

Date: January 6, 2015

woman lifting weights

You can halt and even reverse osteoporosis with tried-and-true nutrition and exercise, says endocrinologist Kendall F. Moseley, M.D., who works in the Johns Hopkins Bayview Metabolic Bone Center.

Bone density peaks in our late 20s, and for this reason, sticking to a healthy lifestyle with wise diet choices and ample exercise early in life will help to build the strongest bones possible. Unfortunately, after age 30, bone density may decline. This is particularly true for women experiencing perimenopause, though men are also at risk.
To maintain and even boost bone density, premenopausal women and men younger than 50 should strive to get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day through diet and supplements. (Three cups of 1 percent milk has about 900 mg of calcium.) Postmenopausal women and men older than 50 should try for 1,200 mg a day, Moseley says. Calcium supplements should be taken with meals and in divided doses for better absorption, she advises. Women and men of all ages should also aim for 800 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D3 a day, as well as a balanced diet rich in fruits, leafy green vegetables and lean proteins.

Thirty minutes of resistance exercises (walking counts!), three or four times a week, also improves bone health. More advice from Moseley: Avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption to 3 ounces or less per day, and remove bone-breaking fall hazards from around the house, such as throw rugs and clutter.

For help beyond these lifestyle changes, Moseley says medications designed to stop bone breakdown and build bone density may be needed.

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