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Five Tips for Healthy Bones


Molly Kimball, a dietitian at Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center, offers ways to keep bones strong. — Nicole Koster

Get 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. That equals about four cups of milk. It's more difficult for the body to absorb the calcium in leafy greens, so try Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, which have 200-300 milligrams of calcium per serving.

To get vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium, spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Vitamin D creation is maximized when the sun is directly on you.

People with darker skin or who are overweight have a harder time making vitamin D. Kimball recommends they take a 1,000 IU supplement of vitamin D.

Know your osteoporosis risk factors. If you are thin, female, a smoker, post-menopausal or have a family history of osteoporosis, have a bone density test. Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics are at the highest risk for osteoporosis.

Long-term use of some medications (including some oral steroids, birth control and antidepressants) can thin bone tissue. Talk with your doctor about which medications have low risk factors.

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