Be sure to get an adequate amount of calcium:
Adolescents and young adults (11-24 y)
Middle years (25-40y)
Pregnant or breastfeeding
1500 mg/day (no HRT)
1200 mg/day (taking HRT)
HRT=hormone replacement therapy for menopause
Most people find it difficult to get this much calcium from their diet, so you may need a supplement. Calcium supplements are best taken in divided doses of no more than 500-600 mg per dose. Calcium phosphate and calcium citrate tend to be less constipating, and are better absorbed. However, calcium carbonate (TUMS) is inexpensive and convenient. Some common over the counter medications such as Zantac can reduce absorption of calcium carbonate.
For calcium content of more common foods, you can refer to the following website: www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/ and follow the links provided.
Everyone should aim for 1000 IU of vitamin D intake daily. Most common multi vitamins contain 400 IU of vitamin D and therefore you will have to buy an extra supplement. Sunlight is another source of vitamin D; however, in this area and with the high rate of sunblock use, most people do not have adequate vitamin D levels without taking a vitamin or supplement.
Exercise helps to build strong bones and prevent bone loss. Combine strength training exercise with weight bearing exercise for best results. Strength training can be accomplished through low weight, high repetition weight lifting using the arms, legs, back and abdomen. Examples of weight bearing exercise are walking, jogging, stair climbing and low-impact sports. Including 30-60 minutes of this type of exercise at least 3 days/ week will also promote good cardiovascular health.
Smoking increases bone loss, perhaps by decreasing the amount of estrogen a woman's body makes and by preventing absorption of calcium in the intestines.
Consuming more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day may decrease bone formation and reduce your body's ability to absorb calcium.
Moderate caffeine consumption (2-3 cups/day) won't harm you as long as your diet contains adequate calcium and vitamin D.
Bone density screening is recommended for everyone age 50 and up. You should check with your insurance provider first to be sure that your DXA scan is a covered benefit. You can also discuss this further with your primary care provider.