NEW YORK — Osteoporosis, a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both, can be debilitating.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones each year, a figure that experts predict with rise to three million by 2025.
While anyone can suffer from osteoporosis, women are more likely than men to develop the disease.
Studies suggest that while up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis, one in two women age 50 and older are likely to suffer such a fate.
The NOF notes that osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease, with many people not even realizing they have it until they suffer a fracture.
Because of the silent nature of osteoporosis and their increased vulnerability to it, women may want to take the following measures to protect themselves against this potentially debilitating disease.
Calcium and vitamin D
Include ample calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Both are vital to building strong, dense bones when you’re young, and both calcium and vitamin D keep bones strong and healthy as the body ages.
Women age 50 and younger need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day, while those 51 and older need 1,200 milligrams each day.
Calcium-rich foods include dairy products like low- or non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
Women age 50 and younger need between 400 and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day, while those age 50 and older need between 800 and 1,000 IU each day.
The body can get vitamin D from sunlight and supplements or multivitamins. Vitamin D is naturally available in just a few foods, such as fatty fish like wild-caught salmon or tuna.
Include weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises in your workout routine. These help women build and maintain bone density.
Weight-bearing exercises include dancing, high-impact aerobics, jogging/running, and tennis, among others. Muscle-strengthening activities include weightlifting and elastic band exercises.
The NOF notes that certain positions in exercises such as yoga and pilates may not be safe for people with osteoporosis or those at increased risk of broken bones.
Speak to a physical therapist about which positions or exercises to avoid.
Pay attention to the beverages you drink. It’s not just the foods you eat that can help or hurt you in the fight against osteoporosis.
Heavy consumption of alcohol can contribute to bone loss, while drinks that contain caffeine, including coffee, tea and sodas, can decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss as well.
Drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages in moderation.
Learn more about the disease at www.nof.org.