Huffpost Fifty

6 Easy Ways To Strengthen Your Bones And Prevent Osteoporosis

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CALCIUM
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Here at Huff/Post50 we've written about the ways your body gets stronger as you age-- you get fewer colds, enjoy better sex, and have clearer skin, just to name a few. But we're also aware that certain things can get weaker, like our bones.

Both older men and women are at risk of osteoporosis, which makes your bones brittle and fragile. An estimated 52 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately half of all women and a quarter of all men over 50 will break a bone from the disease.

The good news is, we've rounded up some of the steps you can take to protect yourself against the disease and keep aging healthily. And there's more to it than just drinking milk and getting your calcium.

  • Eat Your Veggies
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    It's true that dairy products are rich in calcium, but that's not the only source of the bone-building mineral. Leafy green vegetables in particular are packed not only with calcium, but with vitamin K which has been shown to increase bone density and reduce the likelihood of fractures. Just a cup of kale contains nearly 10 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake and over 600 percent of the daily value of vitamin K.
  • Get Some Rays
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    While calcium is necessary to build and maintain strong bones, it's vitamin D that aids in it's absorption. If you're not getting enough vitamin D, your bones could become weak, brittle, and even misshapen. A combination of vitamin D and calcium is necessary to prevent osteoporosis in older adults. Sunlight helps produce vitamin D in your body and the NIH suggests as little as 10-15 minutes of sun exposure just 3 times a week will give you adequate amounts.
  • Kick The Soda Habit
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    You've probably heard that soda is bad for your teeth, with the harsh acids eating away at your enamel. But too much soda could also wreak havoc on your bones. Studies have suggested the more cola women drink (both regular and caffeine free), the lower their bone density will be. A study conducted by Tufts University found women who drank regular or diet soda three times a week over several years had significantly lower bone density than women who just drank cola occasionally. Experts say the phosphoric acid in cola could be to blame, leeching calcium from the bones. Other studies have shown excessive amounts of caffeine can lower the body's ability to absorb calcium. But it could also be that if you're guzzling soda, you're probably drinking less milk. Whatever the case, it's probably best to replace your soda habit with water, milk, or if you need a little fizz, some carbonated water.
  • Eat Plenty Of Nuts
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    Nuts can be considered a superfood when it comes to bone health and fighting osteoporosis. They contain calcium and protein which are both essential to strong bones. Older people with hip fractures often have protein deficiencies, which cause loss of bone mass. A cup of almonds and brazil nuts contains 385 mg and 213 mg of calcium respectively, while a cup of skim milk contains just under 300 mg. Plus, many nuts contain potassium which helps prevent calcium loss in urine.
  • Cut Out The Salt
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    Here's some food for thought: A Japanese study found older women who consumed high amount of sodium were four times as likely to suffer bone fractures. Salt may be responsible for speeding up calcium loss which can ultimately lead to loss of bone mass. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you not only avoid sprinkling extra salt onto your food, but that you avoid foods which contain more than 20 percent of the daily recommended sodium intake. Processed and canned foods can be particularly high in sodium, so be on the lookout.
  • Get Moving
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    You may have made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, but here's the silver lining. Weight-bearing exercises not only help you build muscle and lose weight, they help you keep your bones strong too. With activities like walking, jogging, or climbing stairs, you can strengthen your bone tissue which you start to lose in midlife. Studies have shown resistance exercises can help post-menopausal women maintain bone density Plus, exercise will improve your balance, coordination, and stability which can all work to prevent falls and fractures.

Earlier on HuffPost50:

Exercise Over 50
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Around the Web

How to Prevent Osteoporosis: Workouts, Calcium, and More - WebMD

Slow, stop, and even reverse bone loss - Nutrition Express

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For bone health, diet and yearly checkup are musts