Treatments and Medications

The first step in treating osteoporosis is to prevent it by taking measures to avoid bone loss and maintain strong bones. The following measures may contribute to long-term bone health:

  • Calcium—Dietary calcium may help combat low bone mass and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Recommended food sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt); dark, leafy green vegetables (such as broccoli and spinach); sardines and salmon with the bone; foods fortified with calcium (such as orange juice and cereals). Calcium needs change throughout life, with a greater demand occurring during childhood and adolescence, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and in postmenopausal women and older men. For example, 1,300 mg/day of calcium is recommended for children and adolescents age 9 to 18 years, and 1,200 mg/day is recommended for adults age 51 and older.
  • Vitamin D—Vitamin D contributes to calcium absorption as well as bone health. The body makes vitamin D through exposure to sunlight (15 minutes per day is recommended), and it can also be found in food sources including egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver.  Vitamin D supplements may be suggested for people who cannot get adequate sun exposure.
  • Exercise—Exercise, especially weight-bearing activities like walking, climbing stairs, and weight lifting, makes bones stronger.

As well, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use, as these behaviors are associated with weaker bones and increased risk for fracture.

Living with Osteoporosis

In addition to nutrition and exercise to prevent and manage osteoporosis, you can reduce your risk of fractures. Preventing falls is especially important among people with osteoporosis. Falls may be caused by environmental factors (obstacles and slippery surfaces, for example), impaired vision or balance, chronic diseases that affect mental and physical functioning, and certain medications such as sedatives or antidepressants. Tips for managing environmental factors are listed below. If you are affected by any of the health conditions listed above, consult your doctor about ways to manage these conditions.

Managing Indoor and Outdoor Risks for Falls
  • Use a cane or walker.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes for traction. Avoid walking in socks, stockings, or slippers. Instead, wear supportive, low-heeled shoes even indoors.
  • Avoid slippery surfaces whenever possible (slippery surfaces include wet or icy sidewalks and highly polished floors).
  • Use carpet runners.
  • Keeps rooms and floors free of clutter.
  • Keep stairwells and hallways well lit.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom near the shower, tub, and toilet.
  • Use a rubber mat in the shower or tub.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries near your bed.


The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse National Institutes of Health

National Osteoporosis Foundation


Osteoporosis. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center Web site. Available at:

Accessed August 2010.