Lifestyle Changes for Osteoporosis & Low Bone Mass

If you are diagnosed with low bone mass or osteoporosis, NYU Langone doctors often suggest dietary and other lifestyle modifications as part of your treatment. Lifestyle changes are recommended for people with low bone mass to prevent the condition from progressing to osteoporosis and for people with osteoporosis to help them stay as healthy as possible.

Because bones are made partly of calcium, eating foods rich in calcium can help prevent bone loss after menopause. Dairy foods, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, soy products, and calcium-fortified foods all help build bone strength. Some people may need additional calcium supplements, such as calcium citrate or calcium carbonate; however, you and your doctor should discuss whether you should take it and how much to take before you start.

Vitamin D helps maintain bone health because it promotes calcium absorption in the intestines and helps to maintain proper calcium levels. Often, your doctor measures your vitamin D level and decides whether a supplement is necessary. 

Your doctor may also recommend staying physically active because exercise—especially weight-bearing exercise—stimulates bone growth. However, because osteoporosis puts people at greater risk for bone fractures, those with more severe disease should take certain precautions when exercising. They should consider wearing sturdy, comfortable shoes or working with someone who can supervise the activity, such as a physical therapist.

NYU Langone doctors may also recommend taking certain safety measures at home and at work to prevent falls and fractures. They advise installing support rails, or grab bars, in the bathroom; using nightlights; and not placing rugs on the floor that you could easily slip on. 

In addition, people with low bone mass or osteoporosis are advised not to smoke or consume more than two alcoholic drinks a day. Both alcohol and smoking decrease bone density and increase fracture risk. The specialists at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can recommend strategies for cutting back and eventually quitting smoking altogether.

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