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How to Start Your Osteoporosis Prevention Plan Today

Peer Reviewed

Osteoporosis is one of today's most preventable diseases. Even if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are steps you can take—with your doctor's guidance—to help control this bone disease from silently progressing.

SpineUniverse urges you to discuss the osteoporosis risk factors with your doctor. Together, you can map out a plan to improve your overall health and reduce your chance of osteoporosis leading to a fracture in your spine or other bones.

1. Time to Invest in Your Health
Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your osteoporosis risk factors. Take time to prepare for your doctor's visit by reviewing our appointment checklist. It is a valuable tool to help you during this important healthcare discussion.

2. Learn Your T-score
A bone mineral density (BMD) is the most reliable way to predict and detect osteoporosis. This painless test takes little time to complete. This test will reveal your T-score; a number used to help predict and detect osteoporosis. Ask your doctor if it's time for a bone mineral density test.

3. Exercise to Build Bone Mass
Include weight-bearing and resistance exercise in your regular workout.

What is the difference between weight-bearing and resistance exercises? Weight-bearing exercises use bone and muscle to work against gravity. For example, when you walk, jog, dance or play volleyball you are doing weight-bearing exercise. Weight lifting or using free weights are examples of resistance exercise. Here you use your muscular strength that helps build bone mass and strengthens muscles too.

A Word of Caution:
Whether you currently exercise regularly or not, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor is happy to recommend a safe exercise program to benefit your health.

4. Eat a Calcium and Vitamin D Rich Diet
You are what you eat! If you don't take the time to nourish your body properly, your health will suffer. Although calcium and vitamin D cannot fully prevent or cure osteoporosis, it is critical to include the right amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet everyday. Even if you are lactose intolerant, there are many fortified food products such as orange juice and cereal to help you meet daily mineral requirements.

To help you better understand the best foods for bone health, take the SpineUniverse Osteoporosis Food Quiz. It covers the best and worst foods for your bones.

Besides food sources, there are varied brands and types of supplements available to help boost your calcium and vitamin D intake. Talk to your doctor about how much calcium and vitamin D you need every day. Remember that taking too much of a good thing is not being health wise. Overdosing on supplements can make you sick. Don't navigate the supplement aisle alone! Ask your doctor or health care professional for product and dosing recommendations.

Diet Tip: Registered Dietitians (RDs) can help you learn how to make wise food and supplement choices. Your doctor can aid you in finding an RD in your area.

5. So Many Reasons to Stop Smoking
Smoking affects almost every organ in your body! If decreasing your risk of cancer, heart, and lung disease is not enough incentive, osteoporosis should be! Simply put—smoking increases your risk for osteoporosis. Why? Because smoking interferes with your body's capacity to absorb calcium and may lower the hormones your body needs to build and preserve bone mass.

6. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
"Everything in moderation" is a common expression. Excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks causes poor nutrition. In turn, poor nutrition causes bone density to decline, leading to osteoporosis. Plus, alcohol increases the risk of falling. Falls are a leading cause of spinal and other bone fractures.

For more information on osteoporosis prevention, visit the Osteoporosis Center at Everyday Health.

Updated on: 11/13/12
Isador H. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FRCSC
This article was reviewed by Isador H. Lieberman, MD.
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