Bone Health

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” It is often called “the silent disease” as bone loss occurs without any symptoms until testing reveals weak, brittle bones that are more prone to fractures. The U.S. Office of the Surgeon General reports an estimated 10 million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis and another 43 million are at risk of this debilitating disease.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are risk factors for osteoporosis that cannot be controlled: gender, age, body size, family history and ethnicity. Females are more at risk for osteoporosis than males. Studies suggest that one out of two women break a bone — most often in the hip, spine or wrist — due to osteoporosis.

The Role of Dairy Foods in Keeping Bones Strong

Healthy bones need the mineral calcium. The best food sources of calcium are milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends three servings of calcium-rich foods every day for children ages nine and older to maintain bone health.

Bones need vitamin D to help absorb calcium. Most people get vitamin D from three sources:

  • Sunlight: Being outside in sunlight about 15 minutes a few times a week helps the body to make vitamin D.
  • Fortified milk: Most milk today is fortified with vitamin D. One cup of milk provides a quarter or more of the daily requirement of vitamin D.
  • Foods: Only a few foods contain naturally occurring vitamin D: cod liver oil, egg yolks, fatty fish (e.g., salmon), and certain varieties of mushrooms (e.g., maitake and portabella) that are exposed to ultraviolet light.

Recommended Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes

Life-stage groupCalcium mg/dayVitamin D (IU/day)
Infants 0 to 6 months200400
Infants 6 to 12 months260400
1 to 3 years old700600
4 to 8 years old1,000600
9 to 13 years old1,300600
14 to 18 years old1,300600
19 to 30 years old1,000600
31 to 50 years old1,000600
51- to 70-year-old males1,000600
51- to 70-year-old females1,200600
>70 years old1,200800
14 to 18 years old, pregnant/lactating1,300600
19 to 50 years old, pregnant/lactating1,000600

Definitions: mg = milligrams; IU = International Units
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010

Aim to Be Active to Keep Bones Strong

In addition to a diet that includes calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing activities like walking, running, hiking, climbing, dancing and lifting weights are necessary to prevent fractures and maintain healthy bones. Aim for 30 minutes each day, most days of the week.

Recipes for Bone Health

It’s easy to improve your bone health with easy recipes that are great sources of calcium and vitamin D. View Recipes

Bone Health Resources