Osteoporosis makes bones thin and liable to break. It’s a silent condition – you won’t know it is happening. So it’s very important to be aware of what you can do to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Osteoporosis affects both women and men. Women are more at risk because the hormone changes that occur in the menopause directly affect bone density. Read more about the menopause here.
While osteoporosis is more common in older people, it can affect younger people too. Adults start to lose bone density from the age of about 35.
Almost 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis. Few people know they have it until they break a bone.
One of the most important things you can do to guard against osteoporosis is to have plenty of calcium in your diet. The recommended daily amounts of calcium are:
This Food Fact Sheet from the BDA includes a helpful at-a-glance guide to check if you're getting enough calcium in your diet.
Follow these tasty tips to keep osteoporosis at bay:
Our Healthy Eating page is packed with scrumptious suggestions for eating well.
All exercise is great for your health, but to guard against osteoporosis you need to make sure you take weight-bearing exercise.
This means carrying your body weight in activities such as: jogging, brisk walking, tennis, dancing, weight training in the gym, and low-to-high intensity workouts.
Yoga and tai chi are also good for bone density. Cycling and swimming don't count as weight-bearing exercise - but they're both great for your general health and fitness.
Read our helpful guide to Getting Active .
Smoking damages your health in a vast number of ways, and causes a long list of life-threatening illnesses including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
When you smoke you'll also damage your bone health.
And if you smoke before you’re 30 you’ll even prevent your body from developing maximum bone mass. Then, as you age, smoking will speed up bone loss.
Today is the day to stub out your last cigarette!
Our Quit Smoking page is packed with helpful tips and advice. Good luck!
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and nearly all of our vitamin D comes from sunlight.
If you’re at risk of osteoporosis, aim for at least 15-30 minutes per day. Why not combine this with your daily exercise for maximum benefit!
You may need to take a vitamin D supplement if you’re elderly or housebound.
If you’re at risk of osteoporosis and going through the menopause, ask your GP about HRT or other medication.
Hormone replacement therapy can help guard against the bone loss associated with menopause. Taking HRT does carry some risks, and research into these is ongoing. Your GP will be able to weigh up the benefits and risks in your case.
There are also other preventative treatments against osteoporosis that your GP can prescribe.
At your health screening, your Mary How Trust nurse will discuss osteoporosis with you in the light of your age, medical and family history, and lifestyle. She may recommend further investigations by your GP (for example, bone density scans).