Reviewed by Barbara Goldstein MD

Building strong bones, especially before the age of 35, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis. A healthy lifestyle is also important for keeping bones strong.

Here are five tips to help prevent and treat osteoporosis:

Exercise that forces you to work against gravity —weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging - helps prevent osteoporosis. But the benefits of exercise last only as long as you keep exercising. Talk with your health care provider or ask for a referral to a physical therapist to learn what type of exercise you can do safely, not only to preserve bone, but also to strengthen your back and hips, maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of falling.

Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is important for all age groups to help build healthy, strong bones throughout life. To make sure that a lack of calcium is not weakening your bones, eat foods rich in calcium. These include dairy products and dark leafy and green vegetables. All adults need at least 1200 mg of calcium and 800IU of vitamin D each day. The average American diet, including dairy products, contains only 600 mg of calcium each day. A child's requirement for calcium and vitamin D varies with age. Check with your child's doctor for requirements.

Limit alcohol intake.
The seriousness of alcohol's effect on osteoporosis depends on how much and how often you drink alcohol.

Stop smoking.
Smoking can lead to osteoporosis.

Use appropriate supplements.
Take calcium and vitamin D supplements as recommended by your health care provider.

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