The best osteoporosis prevention strategy is to gain as much bone mass as possible when young -- by eating the right foods and exercising.
Our skeletons are like a bank. The more bone mass we build up while young, the longer we can withdraw from it before we are vulnerable to fractures.
Women achieve their peak bone mass around age 20 and men around age 30.
Keeping bone mass at its optimum means we need to get enough calcium, as well as the vitamin D needed for the body to assimilate the calcium.
So what is recommended for a great osteoporosis prevention program?
The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of calcium for osteoporosis prevention is as follows:
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides excellent guidance on osteoporosis prevention strategies during childhood.
The optimal primary nutritional source during the first year of life is human milk. Available data demonstrate that the bioavailability of calcium from human milk is greater than that from infant formulas or cow's milk.
Consequently, calcium has been increased in infant formulas (including soy formulas) to ensure at least comparable levels of calcium retention.
Premature infants have higher calcium requirements than full-term infants while in the nursery. These may be met by using human milk fortified with additional minerals or with specially designed formulas for premature infants.
Calcium retention is relatively low in toddlers and slowly increases as puberty approaches. The development of eating patterns associated with adequate calcium intake are most important at this stage of development.
The efficiency of calcium absorption is increased during puberty and the majority of bone formation occurs during this period.
The optimal levels of calcium intake at this age is between 1200 and 1500 mg a day. Establishing good dietary patterns is critical at this age.
Opportunities for osteoporosis prevention later in life are well described by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco, M.D., in chapter 12 of "A Physician's Perspective on Bone Building."
The average age at which we begin to lose bone is age 34 and after that we lose one percent bone mass per year.
It is important to maintain a good exercise regimen and to improve nutrition during this period. This is a critical decade for maintaining maximum bone mass, bone strength and bone structure.
Many people aged 40 to 50 experience increased stress and allow their exercise and nutritional regimens to slide.
At this stage, diet, stress reduction, calcium supplements and core exercise for both strength and balance are vitally important for future posture and structure.
Stress reduction and deep sleep are important.
The decade of 60 to 70 is a time when we want to retain our maximum bone strength and function. The same program that will stop bone loss will also help lower the risk of stroke, cancer and heart disease.
Optimal health programs are essential to longevity.
At 70 to 80+, primary attention must be given to fall prevention, building strong muscles and maintaining bones. It is imperative that we fall-proof our homes to ensure that there are no obstacles that could cause a fall.
Daily walks, a good diet and the on-going use of supplements continue to be important. Muscles and bones become stronger the more they are used.