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Head off osteoporosis with healthy habits

About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, according to the National Institute on Aging. It's a disease in which bones become weak and more likely to fracture. But the bone loss that occurs doesn't produce symptoms. Consequently, many people don't know they have osteoporosis until a sudden strain or fall breaks a bone—often in the hip, wrist or spine.

Women have a higher risk of getting osteoporosis, but men can get the disease too. Age, race and having a family history of osteoporosis may also heighten your chances of fragile bones.

Three smart steps

While you can't change osteoporosis risks like your race and age, you can protect against the disease with these safeguards:

1. The right diet. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake help keep bones strong. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products; green, leafy vegetables; and almonds. Foods rich in vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Ask your doctor if taking a calcium or vitamin D supplement might also benefit your bones.

2. Regular exercise. Just like muscles, bones grow stronger with exercise. The best kind for bones is weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging or strength training.

3. Healthy habits. Smoking harms your bones as well as your heart and lungs. And drinking alcohol contributes to bone loss. Avoiding these activities can help keep your bones in good shape.

Additional source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

reviewed 5/6/2016

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