Looking after bones

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become thin and weak and break easily. These broken bones most frequently occur in the wrist, hip and spine.  Having Osteoporosis does not necessarily mean that your bones will break; it means that you may have a greater risk of fracture even after a simple fall.

Be good to your bones

You can protect and strengthen your bones at any age. There are five key points to remember:

  • Get enough Calcium and Vitamin D and eat a well balanced diet
  • Do weight bearing and resistance exercise (whichever you can do)
  • Do not smoke
  • Take alcohol in moderation
  • Talk to your GP/ nurse about your bones


  • Calcium is the building block of bones. 
  • It is important throughout our lifetime but during childhood and adolescence the cells responsible for building new bone are constantly working, causing our bones to increase in density and strength. By our mid to late twenties we will have achieved maximum bone strength which is known as peak bone mass.
  • Dairy products, including low fat varieties are a good source of calcium
  • Many products are enriched with calcium such as cereals and juices

Recommended calcium intake

  • Adults require 700 mgs of calcium daily
  • Those who are at increased risk of Osteoporosis may require increased amounts of calcium
  • People with Osteoporosis require 1200mgs of calcium per day

These amounts should be obtained through your diet but if this is not possible, talk to your GP about calcium supplements


Food Source

Calcium Content

Canned sardines in tomato sauce (100g)


Glass of semi-skimmed milk (200ml)


Glass of whole milk (200ml)


Pot of low fat yoghurt (150g)


Piece of cheese (30g)


3 scoops of dairy ice cream (180g)


1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (12g)


Small can of baked beans (150g)


2 slices of white or brown bread (72g)


Cooked broccoli (90g)



Vitamin D – sunshine vitamin

  • Your body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium
  • Your body makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D for many people.
  • Vitamin D rich foods include eggs, dried milk powder, fortified foods such as margarines, milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals, oily fish (eg salmon, sardines, herring) and cod liver fish oil supplements

Recommended Vitamin D intake

Adults require 10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily. If you have a confirmed diagnosis of Osteoporosis you should talk to your GP about vitamin D supplements.  Those who are housebound, avoid the sun, cover up outside or have darker coloured skin may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency and may benefit from a dietary supplement

Exercise makes bones stronger

When we exercise our muscles get bigger and stronger, like muscles our bones get stronger and denser when you make them work.  Examples of good exercises to strengthen your bones are: dancing, walking, stair climbing, gardening or other exercise where you are supporting the weight of your own body.  Always talk to your GP before commencing any exercise regime.


Heavy drinking reduces bone formation, it might also affect your body’s calcium supply.  Drinking alcohol can also make you more likely to fall, which is when most people break bones.


Smoking is known to have a damaging effect on bones and has been shown to slow down the work of the bone building cells.  Giving up smoking will not only be of benefit to your bones but also to your heart, lungs and overall fitness and wellbeing.

Useful leaflets

Stand up for your bones – Osteoporosis – A guide to bone health

The ups and downs of falling – Working together to prevent falls



Page last updated:04 February 2013