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May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease because people cannot feel their bones getting weaker. Nearly 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and almost 34 million more have low bone density, putting them at increased risk for osteoporosis and broken bones.

People with the following risk factors are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others:

• Being female

• Older age

• Family history of osteoporosis or broken bones

• Diet low in calcium and vitamin D

• Excessive intake of protein, sodium and caffeine

• Inactive lifestyle

• Smoking

• Approximately 1 in 2 women and up to 1 in 4 men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Tips for eating smart and staying active:

Calcium counts. Calcium helps keep your bones strong and is used for nerve function and muscle movement. If you don’t supply enough calcium to meet the body’s needs, your body will take calcium from your bones. Natural sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium-fortified foods include juices, cereals, breads, rice milk, or almond milk. Other foods that contain calcium are sardines, salmon with bones, soy beans, kale, collard and turnip greens.

Vitamin D is vital. Vitamin D is needed to absorb the calcium consumed and helps with muscle performance and balance. Without enough vitamin D, bones can lose mass and weaken. One source of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. The skin makes vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Dietary sources include cod, salmon, tuna, swordfish, sardines, egg yolk, and liver. Vitamin D can also be found in fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, cereal, and yogurt.

Stay Active. Certain forms of exercise can build bone density and slow bone loss. It is recommended to get 30 minutes of weight baring exercises (dancing, walking, aerobics) on most days of the week and strengthening exercises (exercise bands or weights) two to three times a week.

For more information, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org.

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