The best way to prevent weak bones is to work on building and maintaining strong ones. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start. Taking the proper supplements, in the correct dosage, can be an important step.  

Out of the 10 million people who have decreased bone mass in the United States, 80% are women. Women are more likely to experience osteoporosis—a disease in which the bones of the body become more prone to fracture—because their bones are often smaller and more fragile than men’s. Osteoporosis in women is more likely to occur during menopause, since estrogen—which is needed to protect bones—is reduced during this time. 

While it is always best to get your nutrient needs met by eating whole foods, sometimes supplementation is necessary. Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium are often called the “bone health trio” because they work in tandem to benefit the skeletal system. Using all three together will produce optimum results, and some research indicates the individual supplements are less effective when used singularly. 

Calcium Women benefit from the consumption of approximately 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium a day, depending on age and ethnicity. Although dairy is one source of calcium, it may not be an optimal choice because dairy has been shown to contribute to conditions such as acne, menstrual cramps and fibroids, to name a few. In some cultures where women have little to no dairy in their diets, they successfully get their calcium from eating plenty dark green leafy vegetables.  

Vitamin D Calcium’s benefits cannot be realized without an adequate vitamin D intake. Besides protecting the body from many other ailments—such as heart disease, diabetes and depression—vitamin D in conjunction with calcium reduces the risk of fractures in bones. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for women is 600-800 IU, although some health experts suggest higher dosages. Because the body can produce vitamin D through the sun’s ultraviolet-B rays, exposing your arms and legs to the sun (without sunscreen) for five to 30 minutes, twice a week will help meet your weekly needs. Your requirement may change based on the time of year and your geographical location. Vitamin D can also be found in products that are fortified with the vitamin, such as many dairy and non-dairy milks. 

Magnesium Probably the scarcest out of the three in our diets, magnesium is extremely important for the management of muscle pain, fatigue and healthy blood pressure. Magnesium and calcium work together synergistically. Without adequate magnesium, too much calcium can promote the formation of kidney stones. The recommended daily amount of magnesium is 310-420 milligrams, depending on age and whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Adding two cups of Epsom salt to your bath is another way to absorb the recommended daily amount. Also take a look at magnesium oil, a form of the supplement designed to be administered through the skin. 

While supplements can help in your quest for strong bones, you’ll also want to pay attention to factors that can affect your skeletal health over time. Adding weight-bearing exercise, while nixing detrimental lifestyle and diet choices, is key in protecting bones. Ditching excessive caffeine, alcohol, sugar, carbonated beverages, salt and tobacco can help ensure you aren’t bad to the bone. 

The information presented here is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.