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Building Good Bones

A lifetime of poor nutrition and little exercise can increase your risk of osteoporosis, but adopting healthy bone habits early can help you avoid this disease.

Here are some osteoporosis facts and prevention tips from the Center for Bone Health at Montefiore Medical Center.

Your body stores almost all of its calcium in the bones, which act as a calcium bank. You deposit calcium daily and your body withdraws what it needs each day. The amount of daily calcium you need varies according to your age.

Despite what you may believe, cottage cheese is a poor source of calcium. A 1-cup serving of cottage cheese has only 138 milligrams of calcium. A cup of non-fat yogurt has 450 milligrams of calcium. Hard cheeses have varying calcium content. An ounce of processed American cheese has 130 milligrams of calcium; parmesan has 335 milligrams of calcium; Swiss cheese, 270 milligrams per ounce.

Low-fat dairy products often have more calcium than whole-milk products. Non-fat yogurt has 450 milligrams per cup, while whole milk yogurt has 274 milligrams per cup. There is 337 milligrams of calcium in a half-cup serving of ricotta, compared to 257 milligrams in whole ricotta.

The reason is that non-fat dairy products often are fortified with dry milk solids. Read labels to get information about how much calcium is contained in foods.

Some foods and beverages interfere with calcium absorption. These include heavily salted foods such as bacon, salami, smoked salmon, prepared soups, salty snacks and other processed food. You should consume less than 4,000 milligrams of sodium a day.

Cola has phosphoric acid, which blocks calcium absorption, and caffeine, which actually depletes calcium. Excess alcohol consumption damages bones.

Sun is good for your bones. About 15 minutes a day of sunlight without sunscreen will produce all the vitamin D you need. A minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day is essential for your body to absorb calcium. Ensure your calcium supplement contains enough vitamin D for those days when the sun isn't shining or you can't get outside.

Osteoporosis begins in the teen years. Girls achieve 42 percent of their total bone mass between the ages of 12 and 18, yet 90 percent of girls don't get enough calcium. Beginning at age 9, children should get 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day in their diet.

Exercise helps protect you against osteoporosis. The best kinds of exercise are weight-bearing activities such as running, jumping and lifting.

There are various warning signs of osteoporosis. Many older women have fractured spines but are unaware of it because they don't feel or hear the bone crack. Height loss, back pain, a protruding abdomen and a dowager's hump on the back are all signs that an older women has suffered a fractured spine. Brittle teeth may also be a sign of osteoporosis.

Early menopause, estrogen-inhibiting drugs such as Depo-Provera, late puberty, irregular periods, or other menstrual disorders may put women at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Some medications reduce bone mass. These include glucocorticoids used to control asthma and arthritis, some anti-seizure drugs, certain sleeping pills, some hormones used to treat endometriosis, and some cancer drugs.

Medical conditions such as kidney disease, lupus and an overactive thyroid gland also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about osteoporosis.


Reference Source 101

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