Osteoporosis is an old lady’s disease, right? Well, kind of. More women age 65+ get it than younger women. The thing is, your younger years are the time to take steps to lessen the risk of getting osteoporosis later. Think of your bones like a gas tank. Fill up on calcium early in life and your bones will take you much further later.
Peak bone-making years are during childhood and teens. Until about age 30, bones are usually larger, stronger and denser because new bone is formed faster than old bone is broken down. If a girl doesn’t make enough bone during those years, she’s at greater risk of developing osteoporosis later.
Eating foods rich in calcium and exercising during those formative years produces higher bone mass and stronger bones, which helps bones stay healthier as we age.
Ensure the girls and women in your life are doing these:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as foods fortified with calcium, such as cereals, bread and orange juice. Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, and some fish and nuts are also good sources of calcium.
- Exercising, especially weight-bearing activities: Walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, lifting weights, dancing and playing sports all help strengthen bones. Try to get 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise most days of the week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Anorexia can be a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Have a conversation with your daughter or girls in your life about the importance of eating and drinking those calcium-rich foods and exercising.
The Institute of Medicine recommends the following amounts of calcium per day:
- Children ages 1 to 3: 700 mg
- Children ages 4 to 8: 1,000 mg
- Children ages 9 to 18: 1,300 mg
- Adults ages 19 to 50: 1,000 mg
- Women ages 51 to 70: 1,200 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women age 18 and younger: 1,300 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women age 19 and older: 1,000 mg
- Men ages 51 to 70: 1,000 mg
- Women and men age 71 and older: 1,200 mg