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Preventing Osteoporosis: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Osteoporosis means the bones have become weak and thin enough that they can break easily. Lifestyle, certain medical conditions, medicines, and getting older can raise your risk of osteoporosis. But with enough 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. If you break a bone, it’s important to tell your doctor and talk about your bone health. Your doctor may recommend an osteoporosis medicine.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Get enough calcium and vitamin D.

  • Eat foods rich in calcium, like yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark green vegetables.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin D, like eggs, fatty fish, cereal, and fortified milk.
  • Get some sunshine. Your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D, but Osteoporosis Canada says Canadians can't get enough vitamin D through sunshine and diet alone. They recommend all adult Canadians take a vitamin D supplement. Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements.
  • Osteoporosis Canada recommends all Canadian adults take a calcium supplement if needed. Talk to your doctor about calcium. Your doctor may recommend taking a supplement if you aren’t getting enough calcium from the food you eat.
  • Get regular bone-building exercise. Walking, jogging, dancing, and lifting weights can make your bones stronger. It also improves your balance.
  • Limit alcohol. Osteoporosis Canada recommends drinking no more than an average of two alcoholic drinks daily.
  • 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

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