Menopause and Other Conditions

Osteoporosisosteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and deteriorates bones. It makes bones more likely to break. There usually are no symptoms. Most people do not know they have osteoporosis until a bone breaks.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

  • Get the recommended amount of calcium each day. Bones are made of calcium. You can get calcium through the food you eat, calcium pills, or a combination of both. Foods rich in calcium include:
    • Dairy products such as low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt;
    • Cereals and orange juice with calcium added;
    • Leafy green vegetables.

You can get calcium pills at the grocery or drug store. Talk to your doctor before taking calcium pills. For recommended daily intake by age please visit

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Nutrition/

Follow these guidelines to be sure you get enough:

  • Women ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium every day.
  • Women over age 50 need at least 1,200 mg every day.

If you are “lactose intolerant,” try eating dairy foods in small amounts over the day and eating more nondairy, calcium-rich foods. “Lactase pills” can help make it easier to digest dairy products. Talk to your doctor about taking more calcium supplements.

  • Get enough vitamin D each day. Vitamin D helps your body take in calcium and makes your bones stronger. One way to get vitamin D is through sunlight, but you need to be careful and avoid a sunburn. A second way is eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as fortified milk. A third way is by taking a vitamin D pill. Ask your doctor how much vitamin D you need.
  • Get moving. Activities that make bones stronger include walking, jogging, stair-climbing, dancing, and lifting weights. The following activities can benefit your health:
  • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
    OR

    • 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
      OR
    • A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity
      AND
    • Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week

Please see our section on diet and exercise for more information on activity and strengthening.

  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. For help, check out our Quitting Smoking section.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day. Heavy drinking is linked to lower bone density and high risk of bone breaks.

Talk to your doctor about your osteoporosis risk. Women 65 and older should have a bone mineral density test.