Boost your bone health in your 50’s

Bone loss usually speeds up during the 50s for both men and women, although it tends to happen more slowly in men than it does for women of the same age.1 This is because oestrogen, which has a protective effect on bone density, declines rapidly in women during menopause.2 Nevertheless, 50‐something women and men will benefit from practising lifestyle habits that are essential for long term bone health. These include:

  • Ensuring optimal calcium intake – Calcium is essential for maintaining bone strength and mass, and while it cannot reverse age‐related bone loss, it can help slow down the process.3 Women’s calcium needs increase after the age of 50 to 1300mg a day and men require 1000mg daily.3 This can be achieved by increasing the intake of calcium‐rich foods such as dairy products, canned salmon containing soft edible bones, almonds and green leafy vegetables. A calcium supplement to help meet daily calcium needs may also be beneficial.
  • Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels – Balanced sunlight exposure on most days of the week is important for sufficient vitamin D production. Vitamin D can also be found in small quantities in fatty fish and eggs.4 A vitamin D supplement may be required for those who are at risk of vitamin D insufficiency due to limited sun exposure.
  • Staying active – It is very important for men and women in their 50’s to incorporate bone building exercises into their routine at least three times a week.5 This includes moderate to high impact weight‐bearing activities such as brisk walking, jogging and tennis, as well as progressive resistance training using gym machines or free weights.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight – A thin body build or excessive weight can impact on bone health and increase the risk of osteoporosis.6
  • Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake – Smokers tend to have lower bone density than non‐smokers and excessive alcohol intake, more than two alcoholic beverages a day, is a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis.4
  • Having a bone density test – Men and women over 50 with a family history of osteoporosis, who are on certain medication, or have other risk factors, should consult their healthcare professional for a bone density scan.6