A healthy body with strong bones is vital to overall health and quality of life. Bones play many roles in the body. They provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium.

Many Americans suffer from bone disease and fractures, and many of these could be prevented. Half of all women and one in four men will break a bone. As of 2010, 10 million Americans already have the disease.

Osteoporosis, sometimes called "porous bone" is a disease of the skeletal system. A person's bones become weak and brittle. This disease increases the risk of bone fractures, usually in the wrist, hip and spine. According to the U.S. surgeon general, by 2020, half of Americans aged 50 years or older will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis.

Men and women of all ages and ethnicities can develop osteoporosis. A number of factors can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. Risk factors that can't be changed include:
Aca,!Ac Being over 50 years of age
Aca,!Ac Being female
Aca,!Ac Being thin and having a small body size
Aca,!Ac Having a family history of osteoporosis

Risk factors that can be controlled are:
Aca,!Ac Diet
Aca,!Ac Physical activity/exercise

It is important for people to build bone as young adults so they reach their peak bone mass in order to maintain bone health. A person with high bone mass as a young adult will be more likely to have a higher bone mass later in life. Inadequate calcium in the diet and inadequate physical activity early on could result in a failure to achieve peak bone mass in adulthood. Bone mass declines in older adults, increasing their risk of osteoporosis.
The best defenses against developing osteoporosis are eating plenty of calcium-rich foods and doing weight-bearing physical activity. These actions build strong bones and enhance bone mass.

Calcium
Calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones and teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles and nerves. Good sources of calcium include:
Aca,!Ac Dairy products-low fat or nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt
Aca,!Ac Dark green leafy vegetables-bok choy and broccoli
Aca,!Ac Calcium-enriched foods-orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages and tofu products
Aca,!Ac Nuts-almonds

Weight-Bearing Physical Activity
Adequate weight-bearing physical activity early in life is important for strong bones associated with many positive health benefits. Weight-bearing physical activities cause muscles and bones to work against gravity. Some examples of weight-bearing physical activities include:
Aca,!Ac Walking, jogging or running
Aca,!Ac Tennis, basketball or other sports
Aca,!Ac Jumping rope
Aca,!Ac Dancing
Aca,!Ac Weight lifting

To reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, include weight-bearing physical activity into an exercise plan to keep your bones healthy. Adults should have at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most or all days of the week. Children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most or all days of the week.
Healthy bones prevent osteoporosis. Get enough calcium. Eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables and get regular weight-bearing exercise.

For more information on osteoporosis and bone health:

The National Osteoporosis Foundation, http://www.nof.org

National Institutes of Health, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/osteoporosis.html.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, http://www.health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/

2004 Surgeon General's Report, www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/bonehealth.

Page last updated Thu May 12th, 2011 at 11:10