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HealthInfo Canterbury

Reducing your risk of osteoporosis

If you're aware of the risk factors you can change, you can take steps to keep your bones healthy and strong. This will reduce your chance of developing osteoporosis. To find out about your bone health, you can do a simple test called Know Your Bones.

There are some risk factors that you can't change, but there are still lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis.

Get enough calcium and vitamin D

Grandmother and grandchild watering flowers gardeningAim for three servings of milk and milk products every day to make sure you're getting enough calcium. Soy milk with added calcium is a good non‑dairy alternative. Calcium is also found in other foods, such as some green vegetables, almonds, tofu and canned salmon and sardines with soft edible bones.

Try to spend time in the sun every day to get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and improves bone health and muscle function. But exposing your skin to the sun increases your risks of skin cancer and it's important not to get sunburnt. Read more about sun‑smart behaviour.

You can also get vitamin D from some foods, such as fatty fish (salmon, herrings, mackerel), liver and eggs. Some margarine, milks and yoghurt have added vitamin D.

For more information, see How to get your daily vitamin D.

Keep active

Being physically active is great for your health and any activity that makes your muscles work will help your bones become strong. Weight-bearing activities increase your bone strength even further. Examples include gardening, stair‑climbing, tennis and other racket sports, walking, weightlifting, aerobics and dancing. These activities require your muscles to work against gravity.

Yoga and Tai chi are good activities to do for balance, strength and coordination, which can help you reduce your risk of falling and breaking a bone.

The Keeping active section has ideas about how you get more active.

Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake

If you smoke, stop smoking. Smoking prevents your body from absorbing calcium and lowers your bone mass.

Drinking alcohol can also cause bone loss and broken bones. If you drink alcohol, try not to drink more than the recommended limit (10 standard drinks per week for women, 15 standard drinks per week for men).

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Treating osteoporosis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Fracture Liaison Service, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2020. Last updated July 2020.

See also:

Eating well for strong healthy bones

Page reference: 46647

Review key: HIOSP-24517