Bone Health Issues: Decreasing Bone Fragility

Updated at: Jan 14, 2013
Bone Health Issues: Decreasing Bone Fragility
Editorial Team
Bone HealthWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 14, 2013

Individuals can protect bone health by following osteoporosis prevention and treatment strategies:


  • Consume a calcium-rich diet that provides between 1,000 and 1,200 mg (milligrams) of calcium from a combination of foods and supplements.
  • Obtain between 200 and 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D each day, depending on age.
  • Participate in weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises most days, preferably daily.
  • Talk with your doctor about having a bone mineral density (BMD) test. The most widely recognized BMD test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. It is painless, a bit like having an x ray, but with much less exposure to radiation. It can measure bone density at your hip and spine.
  • Talk with your doctor about possibly beginning a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for osteoporosis to stop bone loss, improve bone density, and reduce fracture risk.

People need to know whether they are at risk for developing osteoporosis or whether they have lost so much bone that they already have osteoporosis. Although risk factors can alert a person to the possibility of low bone density, only a BMD test can measure current bone density, diagnose osteoporosis, and determine fracture risk. Many different techniques measure bone mineral density painlessly and safely. Most of them involve machines that use extremely low levels of radiation to complete their readings. Sometimes, ultrasound machines, which rely on sound waves, are used instead.

Individuals may wish to have a BMD test to determine current bone health. Today, Medicare and many private insurance carriers cover bone density tests to detect osteoporosis for individuals who meet certain criteria. Talk with your doctor about whether or not this test would be appropriate for you. Falls are serious, but simple, inexpensive steps can be taken to reduce your risk of falling and of breaking a bone if you do fall.

Recommendations for Calcium and Vitamin D Intake

Source: National Academy of Sciences, 1997


Age (years)Calcium (mg)Vitamin D (IU)
19 to 30 1,000 200
31 to 50 1,000 200
51 to 70 1,200 400
70 and older 1,200 600
Upper limit 2,500



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