Taking Care Of Your Bones As You Age.

Whether you have osteoporosis or just want to build strong bones for the future, there are several things you can do to maintain your bones.

Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones. Women and men aged 19 and over (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) are recommended to have 1,000 mg of calcium a day while women over 50 and men over 70 are recommended to have 1,300 mg a day. Calcium is found in a number of different foods including dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, and tofu.

It is recommended that adults take a maximum of 500-600 mg of calcium per day. Talk to your doctor about whether you need a calcium supplement and what the right dose is for you.

Get Your Sunshine Quota

To produce enough vitamin D most Australians only need a few minutes a day of sunlight during summer and a couple of hours of sun exposure spread over the week while during winter. The amount of exposure to sunlight needed depends on your skin type (darker skin requires longer exposure), the time of year, which state you are in and your lifestyle. Visit the Cancer Council website. Excessive amounts of meat, cheese and protein make body acid, which drains the body of calcium and weakens bones. Keep your diet balanced.

The more you smoke, the more likely you'll get osteoporosis. Aim to cut down or, better still, quit smoking altogether. A great place to start is to check out the Quit Now website and its variety of information and tools to support you in quitting smoking.

Salt is thought to speed up the body's loss of calcium. So try to limit your daily salt intake to the recommended amount. Australian adults are recommended to consume less than 4g salt (equivalent to 1,600mg sodium) with 6g salt (equivalent to 2,300mg of sodium) the maximum daily upper limit. This upper limit is equivalent to about a teaspoon of salt.

Looking at nutrition labels can also help you reduce your salt intake. Look for foods with 120mg sodium or less per 100g. Crisps, ham, cheese, cooking sauces and processed foods such as pies, pizza and soups are all high in salt.

Be Active

Bones also benefit if you lift and carry things. Weight training is ideal, but carrying shopping, gardening and housework all count. If you are new to exercise it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before you take up any new exercise activity, to make sure it's right for you.

Drink Sensibly

Losing too much weight too fast under a crash diet can increase your risk of osteoporosis. The same is true if you're anorexic (or, for women, if you're so thin that your periods have stopped).

Weight loss can cut the amount of oestrogen (a hormone that helps to protect your bones) in your body. If you need to lose weight, do it sensibly.