Nutritional advice to help avoid osteoporosis


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/11/2021 (314 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Osteoporosis is a serious disease defined as “porous” or “brittle” bones — meaning that you have less bone mass ,which can lead to weakness and fractures.

After age 50, one in four women and one in eight men will develop osteoporosis. For the elderly, a hip fracture can often be fatal.

However, developing osteoporosis is not inevitable and we can do things to help prevent it throughout our lifetime. Smoking and alcohol can negatively impact bone mass, while regular exercise and healthy eating can help save your bones. Including calcium and vitamin D in your diet can help prevent osteoporosis.

If you are good to go by your health care provider, walking, skating and aerobic activities along with challenging exercise, such as weightlifting or using resistance bands, can help keep your muscles and bones strong. If balance is an issue, yoga and tai-chi can help.

Having a healthy diet is key to preventing osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D work together to ensure bone health. Our bodies and bloodstream need calcium and when intakes are low, the bloodstream will leach calcium from our bones, thereby weakening the bone structure.

For those over 50, 1,000 to 1,200 mg/day of calcium is required for men & women respectively. Over age 71, 1,200 mg/day is recommended. Food sources of calcium are best absorbed by our bodies.

Dairy products are by far the most calcium-rich but you should aim for lower-fat versions. One cup milk equals approximately 300 mg calcium, while ¾ cup yogurt equals approximately 295 mg calcium.

Vitamin D. also known as the “sunshine vitamin” plays a key role in the absorption of calcium. Adults over age 50 should have 600 IU/day and those over 71 should aim for 800 IU/day. In the Manitoba winter, aiming for 2,000 IU per day is OK, as sunshine exposure is usually limited for most people.

There are not many food sources of vitamin D. Fish, especially salmon, along with milk, eggs and some fats will contain Vitamin D.  Because of this, most Canadians require supplementation.

If you are not a milk drinker, there are alternatives, such as calcium-fortified orange juices, using one per cent milk in cream soups or hot chocolate, consuming puddings or frozen yogurts, making smoothies, and trying more legumes to get enough calcium.

Lisa Lagasse is a registered dietitian and community correspondent for Charleswood. Email her at

Lisa Lagasse

Lisa Lagasse
Charleswood community correspondent

Lisa Lagasse is a registered dietitian and community correspondent for Charleswood. Email her at or find her on Twitter: @LisaRD42324393

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