University of Illinois Extension

Decreasing Risk Factors

Poor calcium intake, even in adolescents can increase your risk for a lower bone mineral density in adulthood.

Exercise decreases the risk for developing osteoporosis. Exercising at a young age will help maximize the amount of calcium deposited into bone. This is sometimes called peak bone density. Exercise and activity throughout life will help reduce age-related bone loss, as well as improve balance and flexibility. Balance and flexibility are important factors in preventing falls.

Smoking is associated with lower bone mineral density in women. While the exact scientific reason for this is not known, smoking is believed to interfere with vitamin D. Since vitamin D is needed for calcium deposition in bone, smoking may affect bone health in this way. Reducing the risk of osteoporosis, and for overall good health, it is recommended that you stop smoking if you do now smoke.

The relationship between alcohol and decreased bone density is also unclear. In some studies, alcohol has been shown to have an effect on the cells that manufacture bone. Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with lower bone mineralization, a higher incidence of falls, and more fractures resulting from these falls.

Caffeine increases the amount of calcium excreted by the body. High caffeine intake will affect the calcium balance if your calcium intake is very low. Try to limit caffeine consumption to about 400 milligrams per day. The following are examples of caffeine content of some beverages:

Excess protein increases excretion of calcium from the body. High protein diets with inadequate calcium intake may affect bone health if these diets are followed for more than one year.

Similarly, a high sodium diet can increase excretion of calcium in the urine and a lower sodium diet is recommended. Following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a diet low in sodium.