Calcium and Vitamin D
You need calcium to help maintain healthy, strong bones throughout your life. Adults need 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day, increasing to 1,200 mg for men and women age 50 and older.
Many Asian diets are low in calcium. Examples of foods that contain calcium in different amounts include:
- bok choy
- calcium-fortified orange juice
- calcium-fortified rice
- calcium-fortified soy milk
- canned salmon with bones
- canned sardines with bones
- milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream
- napa cabbage
- sesame seeds
- turnip leaves.
Many Asian Americans have trouble digesting milk products. This is called lactose intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant, here are some things you can do:
- Eat dairy foods in small amounts spread out over the day.
- Eat more nondairy, calcium-rich foods.
- Take calcium supplements.
- Use lactase pills, which make milk products more digestible.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. You need 400 to 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D every day. People can get enough vitamin D from such sources as:
- 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight
- egg yolks
- saltwater fish
- fortified dairy products
- vitamin and mineral supplements.
Physical activity is also important to prevent osteoporosis and reduce falls that can result in fractures. Weight-bearing activities can help you maintain strong bones. Examples include:
- climbing stairs
- weight training.
- Other kinds of exercise will help you increase your flexibility and improve your balance to prevent falls. Examples include:
- tai chi
- bike riding
Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is safe for you. If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, you should protect your spine by avoiding exercises and activities that flex, bend, or twist your spine.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are bad for bones. To protect your bones, do not smoke, and if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
Bone Density Testing
If you are at high risk for osteoporosis, you may want to ask your doctor if a bone density test is right for you. This test will help your doctor decide if you need medication to reduce your risk of fractures.
Bone density tests are quick and painless. You usually do not need to get undressed. The most widely recognized test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA test, which measures bone density at the hip and spine. If you are age 65 or older, Medicare may pay for your test. Ask your doctor for more information.
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