Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a very important health issue for women and men. Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. It can be accelerated when hormones are out of balance.  Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.

There are three factors essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life: adequate amounts of calcium, adequate amounts of vitamin D and regular, weight bearing exercise. Calcium and vitamin D are especially important after menopause.

Foods high in calcium include almonds, dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens and kale), beans (navy, kidney and pinto), tofu, tahini and calcium-fortified cereals. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, but it poses other risks. I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU from a supplement.

Physical activity also plays a major role in prevention. Regular strength training and aerobic exercise can improve muscle mass, balance and bone strength. Strength training including the use of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or even gravity exercises can directly affect your bones to slow mineral loss. Aerobic exercise like dancing and low-impact aerobics, work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. Swimming and bicycling are good for your muscles and cardiovascular system. Mix it up to reap the benefits of different types of exercise and to prevent boredom from occurring. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch before and after exercising. It helps increase flexibility, which helps with balance and posture.