Ensuring Bone Health for Men

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
Bone Health

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Strong bones are just as important for men as women. Your body needs calcium, vitamin D, other important nutrients and regular weight-bearing physical activity to make and keep bones strong and hard. Not getting enough calcium during childhood can lead to osteoporosis later in life, a disease in which bones become weak and easily fracture or break.

Adults usually reach peak bone mass by the age of 30. Choosing foods first to meet nutrient needs is recommended, but in some cases a multivitamin mineral supplement may be needed. Learn more about the essential ways to ensure healthy bones for life.

Healthy Bones and Calcium

Males who are between 19 and 70 years old should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. 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. Sardines, tofu made with calcium sulfate and calcium-fortified beverages such as soymilk and 100% fruit juice are also good sources. Leafy greens such as collards and kale and fortified ready-to-eat cereals can also provide variable amounts of calcium. In order to get the recommended amount, men need at least three servings of calcium-rich foods or beverages every day. A calcium-rich serving is equivalent to:

  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • 1½ ounces low-fat or fat-free cheese
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified 100% fruit juice
  • 3 ounces canned sardines, with bones

How Much Calcium Is in Your Food?

Read the Nutrition Facts Label to learn how much calcium you are getting in each serving. Calcium has a Daily Value (DV) of 1,300 milligrams a day. If a label reads:

  • 30% DV of calcium = 390 milligrams
  • 20% DV of calcium = 260 milligrams
  • 10% DV of calcium = 130 milligrams

The Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps bones absorb calcium, so it's important to meet daily vitamin D needs based on age. Per day, infants need approximately 400 IU of vitamin D; children 1 to 18 years old need 600 IU of vitamin D; men under 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D; and men older than 70 need 800 IU of vitamin D.

There are three ways to get vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements. Vitamin D is found naturally in just a few foods such as fatty fish including mackerel, salmon and tuna; egg yolks; and mushrooms grown under UV light. Milk typically is fortified with vitamin D and fortified non-dairy beverages and some brands of orange juice and cereal also are sources of vitamin D. Men who do not get enough vitamin D from foods should talk to their physician about the need to take a vitamin D supplement.

4 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 from foods and/or supplements.
  2. Participate in regular weight-bearing physical activity, including muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.
  3. Avoid smoking and if you are a male of legal age and choose to drink, limit alcohol intake to two or fewer drinks per day, on days when it is consumed.
  4. Talk with your healthcare provider about bone health.

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