30s Through 40s
Your body stops adding bone by age 30.
Now is the time to concentrate on keeping
what you have.
ɋ FOCUS ON LOW FAT DAIRY FOODS Most
people don’t get enough calcium from
their diets. Great choices include lowfat
yogurt and 1% milk or, if avoiding dairy,
calcium-fortified soy milk or tofu. It
is hard to get enough vitamin D from
foods and you don’t make enough during
the winter months (you can make it
with sun exposure during the rest of the
year). A good daily dose in winter is 500
IU of vitamin D3.
ɋ REMEMBER YOUR GYM SHOES At this
age, aim for at least a half-hour to
an hour of varied exercise on most
days. Your bones are like a retirement
account. For best results, you must
invest early and often. But even if you
had a late start, there are ways to play
ɋ SEE YOUR DOCTOR If your periods have
stopped, make an appointment with a
physician. This may indicate a condition
that can lead to bone loss.
ɋ MONITOR YOUR THYROID An overactive
thyroid can lead to bone loss. So can
too much of the medications that
treat an underactive thyroid. Thyroid
problems tend to run in families, so
ask your doctor about checking yours
with a simple blood test if anyone in
your immediate family has a history of
50s Through 60s
Once you pass menopause, estrogen levels
fall sharply, and so does your bone mass—
up to 20 percent within seven years.
ɋ WATCH YOUR SALT One study of postmenopausal women found that the more
sodium they took in, the more likely
they were to have bone loss. Keep your
intake to 2,300 mg (about a teaspoon) of
sodium a day or less.
ɋ HAVE A SCAN If you have any risk
factors, ask your doctor if a baseline
DXA scan makes sense. Dual-energy
X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA, is
painless, quick, and can uncover early
signs of osteoporosis before it turns
into a real problem. A machine scans
your clothed body and
ɋ REVISI T THE
SUPPLEMEN T AISLE If
you are not consuming
enough calcium and
vitamin D3 include
supplements. You need
a total daily intake of
1,200 mg of calcium
and 600 IU of vitamin
D3 after menopause.
Vitamin D is most
important because the
older you are, the less
efficiently your body
naturally makes or
ɋ GET A MOVE ON Bone
is a living, changing
material. It still responds well to weight-bearing exercises. Do 60 minutes of
weight-bearing aerobic activities most
days, and add strength training two or
three times a week.
60s And beyond
ɋ PROTECT YOURSELF Add nonslip mats
in showers and baths. Don’t use step
stools. Reorganize items so they’re
within easy reach. Add handrails and
good lighting to staircases, and put grab
bars near toilets and bathtubs.
ɋ MAINTAIN BALANCE Take up yoga, tai
chi, or dancing. Try this simple exercise
suggested by the National Osteoporosis
Foundation: Stand, facing a countertop.
Hold on to the counter and stand on
one leg for 1 minute. Repeat with the
other leg. Do this a few times a day until
it becomes easy. For more advanced
exercises, go to nof.org.
ɋ LEARN ABOU T TREATMEN TS Continue to
include high calcium foods in your diet
(or supplements if necessary) and to use
Vitamin D3 supplements (after age 70, a
total intake 800 IU/d is recommended).
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis,
consider your options. One drug can
help rebuild bone while others can
slow the rate of bone loss. For more
information check with your doctor and
go to nof.org. Investigate alternative
approaches at betterbones.com.