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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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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?

Here are some things you can do to build and strengthen your bones:

  • Get enough calcium.
    • Eat foods rich in calcium, like yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark green vegetables.
    • Talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
  • Get enough Vitamin D.
    • Eat foods rich in vitamin D, like eggs, fatty fish, and fortified milk.
    • Get some sunshine. Your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D.
    • Osteoporosis Canada says Canadians can't get enough vitamin D through diet alone and recommends routine vitamin D supplements for all Canadian adults.
  • Get regular bone-building exercise. Walking, jogging, dancing, and lifting weights can make your bones stronger.
  • Limit alcohol. Osteoporosis Canada recommends drinking no more than an average of two alcoholic drinks daily.
  • Don't 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?

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