As many people age, bone density and bone health become a concern. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women over age 50 will sustain osteoporotic fractures, while one in five men over age 50 will experience the same. These rates are also on the rise – the IOF predicts that by 2050, hip fractures among women and men will increase by 240 percent and 310 percent, respectively, compared to rates in 1990.
A combination of genetics, hormonal changes during and after menopause for women and lifestyle can all contribute to bone loss. With that in mind, it's still possible to increase bone health after age 65. Here's how you can improve bone health and decrease your risk of bone loss as a senior:
Up your calcium intake
Calcium is proven to promote bone health and boost bone density. Medical professionals recommend that adults from 19 to 50 ingest 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Recommended doses increase to 1,200 milligrams a day for women over age 50 and men over 70 years of age.
While you can take calcium supplements every day, you should also focus on raising calcium levels through food. Calcium exists in greater levels in dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Yogurt is actually higher in calcium than milk – one serving of yogurt contains 450 milligrams of calcium, while milk contains 300 milligrams in a one-cup serving.
You can also find calcium in kale, tofu and other soy products, broccoli and some fish including salmon and sardines.
One of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of osteoporosis – or even to reverse some negative effects you may have incurred if you've already experiencing bone loss – is to focus on fitness. Try adding regular walks to your routine and focus on weight-bearing exercises, such as climbing stairs or light weight lifting. You can combine weights and walking by purchasing ankle weights to add a bit of a challenge to your daily walks.
The main thing to focus on is implementing regular exercise into your life, even if it's not overly strenuous. Start by taking a 15-minute walk outside or on the treadmill and work your way up. Every little bit helps. Talk to your doctor about any changes you're considering making to your fitness routine.
Add Vitamin D to your diet
Vitamin D plays a vital role in achieving bone health. This substance regulates the absorption of calcium in your body, so if you don't have a solid level of vitamin D in your body, even large amounts of calcium will not be able to properly absorb. This will then reduce the impact calcium can have on your health.
The Mayo Clinic recommends those aged one to 70 take in 600 international units of vitamin D daily, while those 71 or older maintain 800 international units daily. Sources include milk fortified with vitamin D, oily fish such as sardines and tuna, and natural sunlight. A walk on a sunny day can help you by strengthening your bones through physical exercise and by providing a natural source of vitamin D.
Cut back on drinking
Drinking in excess and any level of smoking are detrimental to your overall health, but if you need extra motivation to quit, consider the effects substances have on your bones. Stop smoking as soon as possible, but you're in luck if you like a regular glass of wine.
The Mayo Clinic recommends you refrain from drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day. You don't have to say goodbye to having a drink with dinner, but consult with your physician about your level of alcohol consumption and whether you should make efforts to reduce your drinking to improve bone health.
Talk to your doctor
Everyone's body and health are unique, and so are your medical needs. Ask your doctor about bone health and density during your next checkup, or schedule an appointment if you're suffering from potential symptoms of osteoporosis including back pain, stooped posture or loss of height over time.
Make sure your doctor knows your family medical history, too. Since genetics play a role in bone loss, your doctor may recommend specific measures to ward off or help reverse bone loss and preventable fractures.