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?????????????????????????cOsteoporosis causes bones to become more porous — and thus more prone to fractures. Approximately half of all women over the age of 50 will eventually suffer a fracture of the hip, wrist or spine. Those sobering statistics are from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and they highlight the immense suffering that follows the loss of bone mass.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, certain medications and medical conditions increase your risk for this debilitating disease, such as smoking, or an insufficient uptake of calcium. On the other hand, these factors lower the risk: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in protein, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. Yet, by far the leading cause of bone loss in women is simply the natural decline in estrogen production that follows the onset of menopause.

There is good news: Many seniors successfully circumvent falls and fractures for years, through taking these four precautions:

  1. A regular exercise routine. Exercises that increase strength, and promote better posture and balance, go a long way toward decreasing the risk of falls and fractures. It’s important to pursue a range of exercise routines that promote general fitness, not just exercise aimed to lose pounds. The goal should be to attain increased muscular strength, improved balance, and better coordination.
  2. Ingesting sufficient calcium. A major building block of bone tissue, calcium supplements and calcium-fortified foods give bones their hardness. Aim for a diet that includes 1,000 milligrams a day of this mineral, if you’re 50 or younger, and 1,200 milligrams, if you’re over 50. Don’t consume more than 2,000 milligrams per day, as it may cause constipation, and interfere with iron absorption.
  3. Accident-proof your home. Avoid area rugs, which may cause falls. Also, keep your home well lit, so hazards are visible, and therefore avoidable. Installing safety bars in bathtubs may also prevent a fall and a resulting fracture.
  4. Ask you doctor about bone-density tests. Find out how frequently you should have these tests done, and if you are a good candidate for therapeutic bone-building medication.