Learn how to prevent osteoporosis by stopping bone loss and by building strong bones. Learn what the causes of osteoporosis are, what foods and exercises are best, and what calcium supplements are safe.
A lack of calcium is not the only cause of osteoporosis. Actually, there is a condition caused only by a calcium deficiency called osteomalacia. Other causes of osteoporosis are a lack of other minerals, like magnesium, and a decrease in the nonmineral framework of the bone.
Risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, Caucasian or Asian race, small bones and short stature, premature menopause, postmenopause, nulliparity (women never having been pregnant), hyperthyroidism, gastric or small-bowel resection, and long-term use of certain drugs. Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal white women.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis with Exercises
No matter how much calcium or other nutrients you take, you will not build strong bones if you do not exercise.
Weight-bearing exercises (where the legs bear the weight of the body) create stress on the bones, stimulating new bone growth and improving calcium absorption. Walking, dancing, jogging, stair climbing, and racquet sports are very effective in preventing osteoporosis. Biking and swimming are not. Perform weight-bearing exercises 30 minutes a day, at least 3 times a week.
Resistance exercises stimulate bone growth by muscle pulling against the bone. Lift weights 20-40 minutes a day, 2-3 times a week. Free weights or machines can be used.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis with Diet
Dairy products and green leafy vegetables are rich in calcium and other important nutrients needed to help prevent bone loss. The following foods are recommended (it is important to eat a variety of foods each day):
- mustard greens
- butternut squash
A diet high in sugar, refined flour, and animal protein causes the blood to become acidic and the bones release calcium to restore a normal pH.
Limit sugar intake and eat whole grains to help prevent osteoporosis.
Limit your intake of protein to 2-3 servings a day. Recommended sources include:
- organically raised fowl or meat
- organic eggs
- beans (black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, split peas)
- nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
- seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
- soy products
Soft drinks are high in phosphates, especially Coca-Cola and Pepsi. When phosphate levels in the blood are high, calcium is pulled out of the bones.
Coffee, alcohol, and smoking leads to bone loss by causing a negative calcium balance. More calcium is being lost than taken in.
It is best to get your daily value of calcium from food sources to help prevent osteoporosis but if you do take a calcium supplement, avoid natural oyster-shell calcium, dolomite, and bone meal products. These calcium supplements contain high levels of lead, a toxic metal that affects the brain and the kidneys.
Calcium bound to citrate, gluconate, or some other organic molecule have lower levels of lead than most calcium supplements. They also appear to be the best form for absorption.
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