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Nutritional Supplements to Build Bone and Help Prevent Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis affects more than 28 million people in the United States. It is characterized by a loss of bone mass resulting in fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures of weight-bearing bones. If it progresses, osteoporosis can lead to loss of height, stooped posture, humpback, and severe pain. Osteoporosis affects both men and women, however women are at higher risk for this condition, especially after menopause.

Not everyone will get osteoporosis. However, everyone can benefit from healthy bones. A lack of certain minerals and vitamins play a role in the onset of osteoporosis. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining sufficient levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals, men and women can keep their bones healthy and strong.

Here are some general tips for maintaining healthy bones:

  • Reduce the amount of protein, such as meat, in your diet. This will help prevent too much calcium from being excreted by the body. 
  • Avoid carbonated beverages. This will reduce sugar and phosphorus in your diet, which also helps prevent too much calcium from being excreted by the body.
  • Increase calcium in your diet. Dairy products, green leafy vegetables and legumes are great sources of calcium. Use low fat products if you need to also control your weight. Look for other products, such as orange juice, that have added calcium. To learn more, take the SpineUniverse Osteoporosis Food Quiz.
  • Get more vitamin D by getting at least 15 minutes of direct exposure from the sun each day. If you live in a climate where this is not always possible, take a multi-vitamin that has the recommended daily amounts of Vitamin D. For adults under the age of 50, you should be getting 400-800 IU of vitamin D every day (IU is the standard unit of measurement for vitamind D). Adults over 50 years old should get 800-1,000 IU every day. Children—it's so important to start building healthy bones early—need 400 IU of vitamin D daily.
  • Exercise. Make exercise a part of your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as low-impact aerobics, jogging, and walking are helpful in minimizing bone loss.

Supplements
Despite all our best intentions, sometimes it is just not possible to eat right and get all the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals in our diet, especially if we are at risk for osteoporosis. That's when taking nutritional supplements can be helpful. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any diet or taking and nutritional supplements.

If you have osteoporosis, are at risk for osteoporosis, or are interested in maintaining healthy bones, increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D will help.

Updated on: 11/07/12
Isador H. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FRCSC
This article was reviewed by Isador H. Lieberman, MD.
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