As we age, it’s important to focus on staying active and protecting our bone health to reduce the risk of fractures, a leading cause of serious injury in older adults.

Health experts recommend a diet rich in real dairy foods – including milk, cheese and yogurt – to keep our bones healthy throughout our lifetime.

Bone loss and fracture risk increases for all genders over the age of 50, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. As we get older, more bone mass is broken down than is replaced by new bone. Our bones get thinner and more fragile.

For women, bone loss can happen quickly after menopause. Women can loss up to 20% of their bone density five to seven years after menopause, according to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation.

Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men experience a fracture as a result of bone fragility, with a fracture occurring every 3 seconds.

Tragically, a hip fracture is often fatal for older adults. One in three adults aged 50 and older die within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture.

However, we can take steps now to reduce our risk of severe bone loss and fractures.

Weight-bearing exercises, including walking, hiking, fitness classes and strength training, benefit our bone health and help prevent fractures.

Experts also recommend eating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, two essential bone-building nutrients.

Milk and other dairy foods, including yogurt and cheese, are excellent sources of calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein.

Unfortunately, 90% of Americans don’t consume the recommended three servings of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) a day, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Research shows that milk and other dairy foods in the diet are associated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Plant-based beverages, such as oat or almond drinks, aren’t a good substitute for the bone-building nutrients found in real milk, experts say.

Plant protein is associated with decreased bone mineral density and isn’t associated with fracture risk, research shows.

For more information on how nutrition can impact your bone health, visit the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Association’s website.

Return to The Iowa Dish