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.
Load up on Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is also super important for bone health because it helps the body absorb calcium from food. You can get vitamin D from wild-caught salmon, tuna, and mackerel and fortified dairy, juices, and eggs. Also, your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun's rays. However, most of us don't live in perpetual summer, and when we are in the sun, we wear sunscreen, which protects us from burns, wrinkles, and skin cancer, but also stops the skin from making vitamin D. Since so few foods offer much of the vitamin and most of us don't get much sun exposure, "it's pretty clear that everyone who doesn't take vitamin D supplement is deficient," Recker says. But don't even think about skipping sunscreen – instead, Recker suggests supplementing with at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day. He strongly prefers vitamin D3, the type that comes from animals, but the plant-based version, vitamin D2, has also been shown to support bone health.
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