“It’s never too early to start preventative measures for osteoporosis,” says New York-based registered dietitian Samantha Heller.
“Children and teens should be consuming foods with calcium and vitamin D, and engaging in regular, weight-bearing exercise. And for women, osteoporosis is especially concerning now that so many people are on diets where they’re restricting calories and then overexercising.”
With that in mind, here are three tips for preventing the bone-degenerating disease:
Staying active is one of the most effective methods of preventing osteoporosis. Specifically, look to exercises with a weight-bearing element to them.
“Do weight-bearing exercises, like walking or jogging instead of riding a bike,” says Dr. Melina Jampolis, an internist and physician nutrition specialist based in California.
“You want to stress the bones as much as you can to make them stronger. Strength training is also essential.”
Calcium is literally food for your bones, so it goes without saying you need it to keep them strong and healthy. Be sure to drink your milk!
“Calcium—anyone over the age of 2 needs to think about getting it in their diet,” says Heller. “We all know about it, but I can’t stress it enough. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try fortified soy milk or orange juice and green vegetables.”
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, you should consume between 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day.
Related: How Young Can Osteoporosis Strike?
Try getting all the colors of the rainbow into your diet, starting with the greens.
“Another big one for prevention is vitamin K, which helps keep bones strong, as well,” says Heller. “Green, leafy vegetables are a great source of it. Kale, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce.”
You can then add more nutrients to the mix for a well-rounded diet.
“New research shows that magnesium, like in beans, nuts, seeds; vitamin C as in broccoli, orange, strawberry, kiwi; and carotenoids like those found in orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables, can all help. Eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy,” says Jampolis.
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