How to prevent osteoporosis

Advice on the Osteoporosis Preventative Measures You Can Take

Osteoporosis is known as the silent disease, so perhaps one of the best ways of preventing this condition in the first place is by outreach by government organizations, charities and websites such as this.

Unfortunately many of the risk factors associated with the disease, such as age, sex, body frame, and ethnic background are out of your control, and therefore it is possible that you develop the condition even if you live the healthiest of lifestyles. However, it is likely that a person who takes incorporates osteoporosis prevention measures into their life is less likely to develop the condition than a similar person with the same background who does nothing to prevent osteoporosis.

With this in mind I would like to address some of the known steps on how to prevent osteoporosis that can be taken to help keep bones strong and hopefully prevent the lowering of bone mineral density that is associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis. The following information is very general, but contains links to further information on each of the key topics. If you are interested in a fuller discussion of osteoporosis risk factors then visit this page.

Smoking, Alcohol and Fizzy Drinks

Both smoking and alcohol are linked to loss of bone mineral density, so if you can quit smoking and/or limit excess alcohol consumption it will help to lower rates of bone loss and aid in osteoporosis prevention.

The phosphorus contained in many soda drinks is known to compete  is known to compete with calcium in the bone remodelling cycle. Therefore phosphorus instead of calcium will be incorporated into the bones instead of calcium.Perhaps the biggest problem is that people tend to develop a love for soda at a time when their bones are growing at the highest rates, and they replace healthier options such as water or calcium rich drinks in the diet of many teenagers.

Weight Bearing Exercises

One of the best ways of preventing osteoporosis is to partake in weight bearing exercises. These are known to have a positive effect on both bone and muscle strength, lead to better posture, increase the range of motion, and even to decrease pain.

One of the easiest ways of adding weight bearing exercises to you life is to go for  brisk 10-minute walk daily. It has been demonstrated that such a little amount of exercise can have a major impact on the prevention of osteoporosis. Other weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis that you may wish to consider include energetic dancing, jogging, weight training, jumping, golf, gardening, walk-jog, and racquet sports.


One of the best ways of preventing bone loss is to incorporate bone building nutrients into the diet. This can be easily achieved by eating foods that are rich in the minerals and vitamins listed below. Or by the taking of nutritional supplements; though it is preferable to  get nutrients in their natural form from foods if possible.


There are many minerals that play a major role in bone health and hence play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Perhaps the two most known are magnesium and calcium. But other minerals such as copper, manganese, and zinc are also important nutrients to include in an osteoporosis diet.


Calcium is a key component of bones and plays a major role in the maintenance and building of skeletal tissue. Approximately 99% of the bodies calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. The other 1% play major roles in many bodily functions such as nerve cell transmission, signalling, activation of enzymes, and much more. It is therefore important that the mineral is under strict control, and can rapidly be made available to the blood stream so that it can be transferred to where it is required. The skeleton can be thought of as a reservoir of calcium that the body can rely on when it is short of calcium in the blood stream. Unfortunately as we age the bone remodelling cycle loses efficiency and calcium is not replaced into the skeletal reservoir at an high enough rate, this leads to thinning bones and hence osteopenia and osteoporosis.

A list of calcium rich foods and the calcium RDA can be found here. If you decide that you need to take calcium supplements for osteoporosis prevention then it is important to know that the bones are able to absorb calcium at a set rate (around 500 mg at once), and therefore calcium supplements should be taking over the course of the day for the best results.



Zinc has a chemically similar structure to magnesium and plays an important role in many bodily functions such as reproduction, development, and immune response. It is also a component of  proteins, a cofactor for enzymes, and is known to interact with other minerals including calcium and copper.

With regards to bone health zinc (along with fluoride) is known to be incorporated into bone mineral hydroxyapatite crystals, and to stimulate osteoblasts. Unfortunately many people do not incorporate enough zinc into their diet, and absorption of the mineral decreases as we age. It is therefore important to incorporate zinc into an osteoporosis preventative diet.

More information on zinc and osteoporosis, including information on RDA and food sources of the mineral can be found here.








Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the uptake of dietary calcium from the intestine. Although the body can naturally produce the vitamin in the skin upon exposure to sunshine,most people, especially those living at high latitudes, or with darker skin, do not have adequate supplies of Vitamin D.

If enough vitamin D is not present then the uptake of calcium is reduced by over 50%. As calcium is essential for many of the body’s function it is important that it is always available. The body reacts to a lack of calcium in the blood stream by removing the mineral from stores in the bone. This leads to a loss in bone quantity and quality, and leads to fractures. It is interesting that without the presence of vitamin D the consumption of calcium alone has no effect upon bone health; and this demonstrates how essential this vitamin is for the maintenance of healthy bones. Only the D3 form of the vitamin is effective and 800 IU is required for it to have osteoporosis preventative effects. The Linus Pauling institutes recommends a 2000 IU daily intake.

More information on vitamin D and its role in how to prevent osteoporosis can be found here:

Vitamin K

There are two main naturally occurring vitamin K types: K1 and K2. The former is found in plants, whilst the latter is produced by bacteria. Research has demonstrated that the 25% of people who consume 250 mcg of vitamin K on a daily basis are 65% less likely to have a hip fracture than the 25% who only consumed 50 mcg per day. Further to this, Metadata analyses research in Japan has shown that a 45 mg dose of vitamin K2 (type MK-4 not MK-7) is associated with an 81% reduction in nonvertebral fractures; 77% reduction in hip fractures; and a 60% reduction in vertebral fractures. It has also been reported that there is an increase in bone strength in people taking 45 mg of vitamin K2 MK-4 over a three year period. It therefore seems important to incorporate at least 250 mcg of vitamin K into the diet as a preventative step against osteoporosis. This is easy to incorporate into the diet by eating foods high in vitamin K such as green leafy vegetables (vitamin K1), or butter, cheese and pate (Vitamin K2).

Osteoporosis Prevention Summary

  • Perform regular weight bearing exercises.
  • Quit smoking, limit excess alcohol and refrain from drinking soda.
  • Incorporate adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, fluoride, and zinc into the diet.
  • Get vitamin D by regular exposure to sunlight, or through supplementation: take at least 800 IU daily (2000 IU is recommended).
  • Take 250 mcg of vitamin K daily.