MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH A. SWICK, MS, RDN

What Can I Do to Help Prevent Osteoporosis?

What Can I Do to Help Prevent Osteoporosis?

An estimated ten million Americans have osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to be weak and more prone to breakage, even with regular activity. Meanwhile, an additional 44 million Americans have low bone density (also known as osteopenia), which is thought to put them at risk of eventually developing full-blown osteoporosis. 

Roughly half of all American adults aged above 50 years old are at risk of breaking a bone and should be focused on ways to increase bone density and how to prevent osteoporosis from progressing. Without intervention, osteoporosis may progress to the point that it can result in severe disability, including chronic pain, and the development of a "dowager's hump" (i.e., kyphosis or a severely hunched posture).

There are several critical approaches to preventing osteoporosis. One of these approaches is to follow an anti-osteoporosis-based diet plan that emphasizes taking vitamins and minerals that are thought to be vital for increased bone health. Other ways are to include regular exercise in your routine in order to strengthen the bones, avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, and to supplement your diet with ingredients that have been proven to promote bone health and increase bone density. 

Is There a Natural Way to Stop Osteoporosis?

Yes, there are natural therapies for osteoporosis that may help increase bone mass that are backed by peer-reviewed scientific studies. Since a healthy lifestyle can often make a major difference in the progression of bone density loss, many of these non-medication approaches to fighting osteoporosis seem to involve lifestyle changes, such as better diet and exercise inclusion. Dietary supplements have also been shown to measurably improve bone health. 

What Are the Best Ways to Maintain Good Bone Health?

Osteoporosis Prevention Diet: Key Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium

The vast majority of calcium intake typically goes to the bones, so getting enough calcium is crucial to support bone health. Those concerned about their bone health should always do their best to meet the recommended daily intake of calcium. Adults who are below the age of 51 are thought to need to consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily, while women above age 50 (and men above 70 years old) are thought to require 1,200 mg daily. Food sources that have calcium include dairy products, bone-in sardines, tofu, and various greens such as spinach. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is typically needed for the body to absorb calcium and integrate it into the bone structure. Humans may be able to produce vitamin D in the liver and kidneys with sun exposure but may also need to get additional vitamin D from dietary sources or supplementation. Adults aged 70 years old or younger may need an additional 600 IU of vitamin D daily, while those above 70 years old may require an additional 800 IU daily. Vitamin D is not found in many foods, but the best food sources of vitamin D are thought to be fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Supplementation can often fill the gaps left by a person’s intake and prevent vitamin D deficiency for those whose diet does not provide adequate vitamin D.

Magnesium

Magnesium is also essential for bone health, such that one study of postmenopausal women found that 40 percent of women with osteoporosis/low bone density had low magnesium levels. Similarly, adults with more magnesium typically have better bone density than those with an insufficient amount. This information suggests a strong association between bone density and sufficient magnesium intake, but further research is needed to determine whether magnesium supplementation helps to prevent osteoporosis. Nevertheless, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is usually 400 to 420 mg daily for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women. During pregnancy, women will commonly require 350 to 360 mg daily; while lactating, they will once again need only 310 to 320 mg daily. This daily intake should come from a combination of supplements and high-magnesium foods, such as greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.

Potassium

Several studies also found a positive association between potassium consumption and bone mineral density, particularly in postmenopausal women and older women. There is no established RDA for potassium, but it is thought that consuming high-potassium foods such as dried fruits, leafy greens, beans, nuts, and starchy vegetables such as winter squash may help to prevent bone demineralization. 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is again an important factor to consider to help maintain good bone density. Low levels of this vitamin have been found to be associated with low bone density and higher rates of bone fractures. There is no RDA for vitamin K, but an adequate intake (AI) is defined as 90 mcg per day for women and 120 mcg per day for men. 

Osteoporosis Prevention Lifestyle

Besides diet, these daily lifestyle habits may be effective for osteoporosis progression prevention, as well as for building bone density:

Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly may reduce bone loss, while remaining sedentary is thought to contribute to bone density loss. Two forms of exercise are known as being beneficial for preventing osteoporosis:

Weight-Bearing Exercises

These exercises are thought of as some of the best exercises to incorporate to help fight osteoporosis, since they require your body to work against gravity while your bones support your weight, which encourages the body to build up its bone density. These exercises include walking, dancing, climbing stairs, and other aerobic exercise that are performed while on your feet.

Resistance-Based Exercises

Resistance training is one of the best-known anti-osteoporosis exercises and involves using resistance to exercise muscles, whether that resistance comes from weights, stretchy bands, or your body weight. Examples include free weights, weight training machines, and elastic band resistance exercises.

Cut Out Smoking

Smoking is an apparent risk factor in increasing the chance that you experience osteoporosis, since nicotine is thought to slow the production of osteoblasts and also since smoking is thought to decrease the absorption of dietary calcium. In addition, smoking may cause estrogen to break down more quickly, which is essential for good bone density (this is also why postmenopausal women who have experienced a drop in estrogen often face the dangers of osteoporosis). If osteoporosis is a concern for you, consider quitting smoking immediately.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

High alcohol consumption may also increase one's risk of developing osteoporosis. This may be because alcohol intake typically interferes with calcium and vitamin D absorption, may cause hormone deficiencies that impact bone density, and drinking alcohol is often thought to increase the risk of breaking a bone in a fall.

Keep Osteoporosis Risk Factors Top of Mind

In addition to smoking and heavy drinking, there are additional osteoporosis risk factors to keep in mind when thinking about prevention. These risk factors include being underweight (weighing less than 125 pounds), having gone through bariatric surgery, having a parent who has fractured a hip during their senior years, having conditions such as kidney failure, IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease, or an eating disorder, and the taking of certain high-risk oral corticosteroid medications regularly.

The Best Supplement for Bone Health

There are many dietary supplements for bone health on the market, but InnerThera's OsteoPlus is one of the best. Here's why:

Osteo Plus

InnerThera's OsteoPlus is formulated to support bone health and bone density while improving comfort, flexibility, and mobility. By supplementing with Osteo Plus, those concerned about their bone mass ensure that they receive plenty of calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K2 (which are all considered to be essential for bone health). 

Each dose of Osteo Plus contains 300 mg of Albion® calcium malate (a form of calcium where two calcium molecules are bound to one malic acid molecule), which is easier for the body to absorb than many other forms of calcium. The plant-based form of vitamin D3 in Osteo Plus supplies 313 percent of the recommended levels of daily vitamin D. Meanwhile, Osteo Plus also contains 180 mcg of K2Vital® Delta, a patented form of vitamin K2 that is highly stable and bioavailable.

Osteo Plus also contains Bonolive®, a highly bioavailable form of olive leaf extract. Bonolive® has been shown in studies to increase the activity of osteoblasts. Olive leaf extract may also help to ease joint pain and, like vitamin D3, improve calcium absorption in the body.