Ensuring Bone Health for Men

Reviewed by Jill Kohn, MS, RDN, LDN
Examining Bones - Ensuring Bone Health for Men

Strong bones are just as important for men as women. Your body needs both calcium and vitamin D to make bones and teeth strong and hard. Not getting enough calcium during childhood can lead to osteoporosis later in life; with this disease, bones become weak and easily fracture or break.

Peak bone mass is usually reached by the age of 30. Eating calcium-rich foods and getting enough vitamin D is essential to ensure your bone health for life.

Healthy Bones and Calcium

Men should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day with either foods or supplements. After age 70, calcium needs jump to 1,200 milligrams a day.

Good sources of calcium include low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, tofu made with calcium sulfate and calcium-fortified soymilk, sardines, fortified cereals and orange juice. Men need at least three servings of calcium-rich foods every day. A serving of calcium is equivalent to:

  • 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free milk
  • 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • 1½ ounces low-fat or fat-free cheese
  • ½ cup regular tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified juice
  • 3 ounces canned sardines, with bones

How Much Calcium Is in Your Food?

Read package labels to learn how much calcium you are getting. Calcium is listed as a part of the Daily Value (DV), which is 1,000 milligrams a day.

If a label reads:

  • 30% DV of calcium = 300 milligrams
  • 20% DV of calcium = 200 milligrams
  • 10% DV of calcium = 100 milligrams

The Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps bones absorb calcium, so it's important to meet the daily vitamin D needs based on age. Per day, infants need approximately 400 IU of vitamin D; children 1 to 8 years old need 600 IU of vitamin D; men under 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D; and men 71-plus need 800 IU of vitamin D.

There are three ways to get vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements. Vitamin D is only found in a few foods such as fatty fish including mackerel, salmon and tuna; egg yolks and fortified dairy products; soymilk and some brands of orange juice and cereal, if fortified. Men who do not get enough vitamin D from foods should talk to their physician about the need to take a vitamin D supplement.

5 Ways to Keep Bones Strong

Bone health is dependent on lifestyle choices. Here are some key things men can do to keep bones strong for life.

  1. Get enough calcium and vitamin D every day with food and/or supplements.
  2. Participate in regular weight-bearing/strength training activities at least two days a week.
  3. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake to two drinks a day.
  4. Talk with your health-care provider about bone health.
  5. Request a bone density test and take medication, if appropriate.

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