It's true that men are less likely than women to get osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones brittle and breakable. But if you think you're in the clear just because you're a guy, you're dead wrong. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, millions of men have the disease, and one in four guys over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. And we're not just talking about an ankle or wrist – about 80,000 men break their hips every year, and guys are more likely than women to die after a hip fracture.
Even if 50 is far off, how you treat your bones today impacts how strong they'll stay down the road. Bones are living tissues that are continually building, breaking down, and rebuilding. And while this process usually goes off without a hitch when you're young, after about age 20, it starts stalling and can fall out of whack, especially if bones aren't getting the proper nutrients or activity. The result is less dense, more fragile bones, putting you on the fast track to osteoporosis. Here are the best ways to keep your skeleton sturdy.
Cut back on booze.
There are countless reasons why you shouldn't party like a frat boy. Overdoing it on alcohol has many negative health impacts, and your bones aren't spared the damage. "Drinking in excess impairs normal function of the liver, where vitamin D from food, supplements, and the sun is converted into a form your body can use," Recker says. So if the liver's not working right, you won't get enough vitamin D. Experts also think alcohol messes with the hormones that help the body absorb calcium, leaving you void of another key bone builder. But this doesn't mean you should cut out cocktails completely. Studies show that moderate drinkers have better bone density than nondrinkers, and having one to two adult beverages a day may actually promote bone remodeling. Just keep it in check.
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