Reduce your risk of osteoporosis

Calcium can help maintain bone density and strength. Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet. Bone loss begins in the mid-30s and increases after the menopause. The recommended daily calcium intake for adults ages 19 to 50 is 1,000 mg a day, increasing to 1,200 mg a day for adults older than 50. Most postmenopausal women should take calcium supplements, because they do not get sufficient amounts of calcium in their daily diets.

  • Include low-fat dairy products in your diet. They are good sources of calcium.
  • Try to do moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Exercise reduces bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or running, is the most effective.
  • Begin taking calcium supplements if you are age 40 or older and you get less than 1000 mg of calcium a day from your diet. Avoid taking more calcium than recommended. High doses of calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones.
  • Get sufficient amounts of vitamin D, which helps the body use calcium. The recommended daily intake is 400 to 800 IU for adults ages 19 to 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU a day for adults age 50 and older. Women can get the amount of vitamin D they need each day by eating a variety of dairy products. Women who do not eat a variety of dairy products or who live in northern climates should include a daily supplement.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine intake. Caffeine in beverages, such as coffee and some soda pop, interferes with how your body uses calcium.
  • Do not smoke. Women who smoke enter menopause earlier and lose bone at an increased rate during the first years of menopause.1
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol.

For more information on how you can prevent bone loss, see the topic Osteoporosis.

Citations

  1. Speroff L, Fritz MA (2005). Menopause and the perimenopausal transition. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th ed., pp. 621–688. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: May 16, 2008

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