Are you at risk for osteoporosis?

Some individuals are at higher risk for developing osteoporosis than others.

Christina Rittenbach
Christina Rittenbach, extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences division of the North Dakota State University Extension Service in Stutsman County
Contributed / NDSU Extension

“What do you think it would be like if you did not have any bones in your body,” I asked a group of fourth-grade students. The students proceeded to slump down in their chairs or fall limp to the floor. They understood the importance of our bones in giving our bodies structure and support. Some of them went on to say we would not be able to walk or get out of bed in the morning if we did not have bones. They also understood the important role bones play in our movement.

Our bones are a living tissue — constantly either repairing and building new bone cells or demolishing the old ones. Unfortunately, this also means that our bones are susceptible to diseases.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones have very low density and are very prone to fractures. Some individuals are at higher risk for developing osteoporosis than others.

  • Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
  • The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
  • Small, thin women are at greater risk for osteoporosis.
  • White and Asian women are at highest risk for osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis tends to run in families.

These particular risk factors are beyond our control. However, we can take steps to keep our bones strong through healthy lifestyle choices.
Eat a diet that is high in calcium and vitamin D. Women ages 51 and older need at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. Males also need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified cereals and juice are good sources. Many green vegetables, such as broccoli, also provide some calcium.

Get weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, lifting weights, and dancing. Also, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.


While some individuals are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, anyone can get it. It is important for us all to take steps to keep our bones strong through exercise and a healthful diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake.

More topics from Christina Rittenbach

For more information on this topic, visit .

Christina Rittenbach, NDSU Extension agent in Stutsman County, can be contacted at (701) 252-9030 or

What To Read Next
Get Local