Maintain strong bones as you age

“We continue to build bone mass until age 30,” says Tina Dreger, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic Health System. “After age 30, we break down more bone than we rebuild.”

5 tips for combating that loss:

  1. Think calcium. Women up to age 50 and men up to age 70 need 1,000 milligrams daily; women over 50 and men over 70 should get 1,200 milligrams daily.
  2. And vitamin D. Aim for 600 to 800 international units (IUs) daily.
  3. Exercise. Weight-bearing exercise (i.e., walking) and resistance exercise (i.e., weightlifting) help slow bone loss.
  4. Don’t smoke. Smoking can increase bone loss.
  5. Moderate alcohol consumption, if at all. More than a drink a day for women or men over 65, or two drinks for men 65 or under, can speed bone loss.

Two bonus tips:

  1. Remember protein. Protein is one of the building blocks of bone. While most people get plenty of protein in their diets, some do not. Make sure your diet includes lean sources of protein, such as eggs, lentils, white-meat poultry, lean beef, dairy, shrimp and soy.
  2. Maintain an appropriate body weight. Being underweight increases the chance of bone loss and fractures. Excess weight now is known to increase the risk of fractures in your arm and wrist. Keeping body weight in check is good for bones just as it is for health in general.
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