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Hand and Bones

Maintaining Healthy Bones

Posted on December 3, 2013

Maintaining proper bone health is important. Calcium, vitamin D, exercise and lifestyle choices can all affect bone health.


It is important to get enough calcium to help you build and maintain strong bones. 

  • Women age 50 and up need about 1200 milligrams of calcium every day. 
  • Men between ages 50-70 need 1000 mg every day and men 70 and older about 1200 mg daily. 

Foods that are high in calcium are dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese), fish such as salmon, dark-green leafy vegetables, or foods that have supplemented calcium like orange juice, bread and cereal.  If you are not getting enough calcium from your diet, you may need a supplement.  Consult a healthcare provider before starting any over-the-counter calcium supplements.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium.  Most people get enough vitamin D naturally by being exposed to the sun or through their diet.  If you are not getting enough vitamin D, you may need a supplement.  Individuals age 50-70 need about 600 IU (international units) per day and individuals age 70 and older need about 800 IU per day.  Again, it is important to consult your healthcare provider before starting a new over-the-counter supplement. 


Bones and muscles will naturally grow stronger with physical activity.  Weight bearing activity is recommended 3-4 times a week to maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis.  Walking, jogging, playing tennis and dancing are some examples of weight-bearing exercise. 


Smoking can negatively effect your bone health and put you at risk for breaking bones.  Ask for help to quit smoking to improve your bone health.


The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that the following individuals should consider having bone density testing.  Annual bone density screenings are covered by Medicare for individuals at risk for osteoporosis.

  • Women age 65 and older and men age 70 and older
  • Younger postmenopausal women, women going through menopause, and men age 50-69 with risks for fracture [low body mass index (BMI), smoking, premature menopause, etc.]
  • Adults who have a bone fracture after age 50
  • Adults with rheumatoid arthritis or taking certain steroid medications associated with low bone mass for longer than 3 months

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