6 Ways to Boost Bone Strength

At some point—usually around age 30—everyone's bones begin to get thinner. But only some people will develop osteoporosis, a progressive disease that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to break.

Your risk for osteoporosis depends on a number of factors, including the thickness of your bones when you were young, as well as the health, diet, and fitness levels you've maintained since. These six tips can help you build bone strength at any age.


  • Consume adequate amounts of calcium.

    Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day, but on average, women get less than half that amount. Excellent sources of calcium include: green leafy vegetables; sardines; calcium-fortified orange juice; and low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Calcium supplements can also be taken to increase calcium intake.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.

    Alcohol can interfere with your body's ability to absorb calcium. So remember to drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day.
  • Get B vitamins.

    Low B12 levels in the blood signal lower bone-mineral density in men's hips and women's spines, according to researchers at Tufts University. In a Japanese study, high daily doses of B12 (1,500 mcg) and folic acid (5 mg) cut hip fractures by 80 percent in stroke patients.
  • Don't smoke.

    When cigarette smoke is inhaled, harmful gases and poisonous substances get mixed into the bloodstream. This automatically affects the flow of oxygen to the blood present in the bones. For that reason, smoking may reduce bone strength, as well as cause back problems.
  • Get enough vitamin D.

    Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so it's essential that women consume 400 to 800 international units per day. Vitamin D can be obtained from fortified dairy products, egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.

    Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, can help build and maintain strong bones. Aim for three to four 30-minute workouts each week. And age shouldn't be a deterrent—it's never too late to start building strong bones.