Ageing and osteoporosis: how seniors can protect their bones

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Osteoporosis doesn’t need to be a natural consequence of aging; there are many ways you can support bone health as you age so you can continue doing the things you enjoy. No matter how old you are, you can help protect your bones by eating well, exercising and avoiding certain lifestyle behaviors.

Tips to keep your bones healthy as you age include:

  • Ensure you consume enough calcium – Daily calcium needs increase to 1300mg for women over the age of 51 and men over the age of 70.1 Good sources of calcium include milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, some brands of tofu, sardines and salmon with soft edible bones, brazil nuts, almonds, unhulled tahini and calcium‐fortified foods. If you find it hard to meet your daily calcium needs through diet alone, you could consider a calcium supplement.
  • Pay attention to vitamin D – The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium making it vital for the maintenance of strong healthy bones and muscles. Although sunlight exposure is the best source of vitamin D, ageing is associated with a reduced capacity to synthesise vitamin D from the sun. A vitamin D supplement may be beneficial for older adults.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine – Regular exercise helps to maintain bone and muscle strength, and improve balance and coordination in older men and women.2 It’s recommended to participate at least three times a week in varied and supervised exercise programs combining weight‐bearing activities, progressive resistance (strength) training and challenging balance activities.3
  • Avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine – Risk factors for the development of osteoporosis include smoking, drinking more than two standard drinks a day and more than three cups of tea, coffee or equivalent each day.4
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Being too thin or overweight can impact on bone health.5
  • Enlist your healthcare professional’s help – If you’re concerned about your bone health or the risk factors for osteoporosis, consult your healthcare professional who may recommend a bone density scan or suggest other preventative measures.

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Published December 1, 2014
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