Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

Osteoporosis Prevention and Awareness Month

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. It is often thought that vegans must have poor bones, because they do not consume dairy. This is incorrect. There is plenty of calcium in plant foods (you could eat nothing but oranges and still get more than enough calcium) and calcium is only one part of the equation. That said: people who have low body weight do have a higher chance of osteoporosis. Here are some tips to keep your bones strong.

  • Exercise: To keep your bones strong, you have to use them. Weight bearing exercise (this is exercise where your own body weight supports you, such as walking and running, but not swimming and bicycling) is essential. Make it a habit to walk as much as possible. Take all the stairs you can take. Walking or running alone is not enough though. You also have to do strength training.
  • Live healthy: Your bones are not an isolated part of the rest of your body. The same things that work to prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer, also work to keep your bones healthy. Do not smoke, do not consume too much alcohol and caffeine, and eat your fruits and veggies. Green vegetables are an important source of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium, which are essential to bone health. Try blending them in smoothies and soups to increase absorption.
  • Take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D may be even more essential for healthy bones than calcium. Unless you live near the equator, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun. If you do not eat lots of fish, you should probably take a vitamin D supplement (at least until vitamin D rich mushrooms are available). Take at least 400 IU a day. 800 IU (from both supplements and fortified foods) may be safer, especially if you live at a northern latitude or do not get much sunshine (without sunscreen).
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May 8, 2006