Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Preventing Osteoporosis: Care Instructions
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Preventing Osteoporosis: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Osteoporosis means the bones are weak and thin enough that they can break easily. The older you are, the more likely you are to get osteoporosis. But with plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and exercise, you can help prevent osteoporosis.

The preteen and teen years are a key time for bone building. With the help of calcium, vitamin D, and exercise in those early years and beyond, the bones reach their peak density and strength by age 30. After age 30, your bones naturally start to thin and weaken.

The stronger your bones are at around age 30, the lower your risk for osteoporosis. But no matter what your age and risk are, your bones still need calcium, vitamin D, and exercise to stay strong. Also avoid smoking, and limit alcohol. Smoking and heavy alcohol use can make your bones thinner.

Talk to your doctor about any special risks you might have, such as having a close relative with osteoporosis or taking a medicine that can weaken bones. Your doctor can tell you the best ways to protect your bones from thinning.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Osteoporosis Canada recommends that adults 19 to 50 years of age get 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day. Adults 50 and older need 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as other women their age.
    • Eat foods rich in calcium, like yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark green vegetables.
    • Get some sunshine. Your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D. The safest time to be out in the sun is before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. Avoid getting sunburned. Sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer.
    • Osteoporosis Canada strongly recommends that you get calcium from the foods you eat whenever possible. Talk to your doctor before you take a calcium supplement. Getting more calcium than you need from supplements can be harmful.
    • Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine vitamin D supplements for all Canadian adults, but you should talk to your doctor before you take more than 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day.
  • Get regular bone-building exercise. Weight-bearing and resistance exercises keep bones healthy by working the muscles and bones against gravity. Start out at an exercise level that feels right for you. Add a little at a time until you can do the following:
    • Do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise on most days of the week. Walking, jogging, stair climbing, and dancing are good choices.
    • Do resistance exercises with weights or elastic bands 2 to 3 days a week.
  • Limit alcohol. Osteoporosis Canada recommends drinking no more than 2 alcohol drinks a day.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make bones thin faster. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter S618 in the search box to learn more about "Preventing Osteoporosis: Care Instructions".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.