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X-ray image of rib cage, shoulder and armMay is National Osteoporosis Prevention Month

Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension


Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle and break more easily. According to the surgeon general, half of all Americans over age 50 will have weak bones by 2020, unless we take preventative measures. Osteoporosis is serious — especially for the elderly — and costly. May is National Osteoporosis Prevention Month, so it’s as good a time as any to make the following changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to help keep your bones healthy.


  • Get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Adults under age 50 and men up until age 70 need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Women age 51 to 70 and all adults over 70 need 1,200 mg per day. It is best to get calcium from food. Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, so it is important to get enough from food, sunlight or supplements. The recommended amount of vitamin D for adults until age 70 is 600 International Units (IU). Those who are age 70 and older need 800 IU.
  • Be physically active. Try to do at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise, like jogging, hiking or fast walking, most days of the week. Strength training, like weight lifting, should be done two to three days a week. These two types of exercise put stress on the bones, which helps make them stronger.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. People who are underweight are more likely to suffer from bone loss and fractures.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can weaken bones and increase risk of breakage.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol consumption decreases bone mass and raises the risk for broken bones.
  • Talk with your doctor about medications. Some medicines, like those for thyroid issues and arthritis, may contribute to osteoporosis so be sure to discuss how to keep bones healthy while using them.



Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2010). DRIs for calcium and vitamin D. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from

National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2011). About osteoporosis. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means To You. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2004.


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Last Updated 05/01/2017