Osteoporosis 101

Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that causes weak, brittle bones which become susceptible to fractures and breaks. About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 34 million are at risk for the disease. The disease affects both men and women of all races; however, White and Asian postmenopausal women are at the highest risk. It is estimated that about half of all women 50 and older, and up to one in four men, will break a bone because of osteoporosis.


While genetics may place an individual at high risk of developing the disease, many other risk factors are controllable. Below are several ways to decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.  

•    Consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D through food and/or supplements (note: consult a physician and registered dietitian before taking supplements)
•    Eat a well-balanced diet
•    Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise
•    Avoid smoking
•    Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks daily

Important Nutrients


Calcium is an essential mineral in our body and is crucial for bone health. The body stores 99% calcium in our bones. Our body caps out absorption at about 500 milligrams in any one sitting, so your best bet is to spread out your intake throughout the day.

How Much?
•    Men and women under 50 years: 1,000 milligrams per day
•    Women over 50 years and men over 71 years: 1,200 milligrams per day

•    3 ounces canned salmon (with bones): 22%*
•    8 fluid ounces low-fat milk: 30%
•    6 ounces nonfat yogurt: 40%
•    1 ounce cheddar cheese: 20%
•    1 cup cooked kale: 9%
•    1 cup cooked broccoli: 10%
•    1 ounce almonds: 8%
*Note: percent of the recommended daily amount for an adult under 50 years of age

Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin is required for calcium absorption. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, your bones will not adequately absorb the calcium you consume. Since D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is essential that you include fat in your diet for proper absorption.

How Much?
•    Men and Women under 50 years: 400-800 International Units (IU) daily
•    Men and Women over 50 years: 800-1000 International Units (IU) daily

This is one vitamin which you can get with adequate exposure to sunlight. Fair skinned individuals who spend about10 minutes in the summer sun without sunscreen can produce 10,000 IU. You can also find vitamin D in the following foods:
•    8 fluid ounces fortified milk: 30%*
•    4 ounces salmon: 265%
•    3 ounces sardines: 44%
•    1 whole egg: 6.6%
*Note: percent of the recommended daily amount for an adult under 50 years of age

Foods To Limit

•    Salty foods: Too much sodium from canned and processed foods can lead to calcium loss from bones. Be sure to consume these in moderation and go easy on the saltshaker.
•    Oxalates: Foods high in oxalates, such as cocoa and black tea, can bind with dietary calcium and hinder absorption.
•    Caffeine: Consume caffeine in moderation. Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and soda, can decrease calcium absorption and lead to bone loss. Other elements in coffee and tea seem to inhibit calcium absorption as well when 3 cups or more are consumed daily.

Sample Menu
While many factors, such as age, gender, race, and frame size can increase the risk of osteoporosis, there are many lifestyle factors (including diet) that can be controlled to reduce the risk. Here is a sample day menu appropriate for someone with osteoporosis.

Mama’s Berry Smoothie

Mama’s Berry Smoothie

Mama’s Berry Smoothie

Toss salad with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Turkey and low fat cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread
A medium pear

Afternoon Snack:
6 ounces low fat yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons granola

6 ounces baked tilapia
¾ cup cooked whole wheat couscous
1 cup steamed carrots
1 cup 1% milk


Blog Contributor

Blog Contributor

Toby Amidor, MS RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics. She is the owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition, where she provides nutrition and food safety consulting services for various entities including FoodNetwork.com, Sears FitStudio, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Bobby Deen’s Not My Mama’s Meals. For more information, visit her website http://tobyamidornutrition.com.

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