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Feel fabulous over 50: Bone and joint health

The conditions which need attention are osteoporosis (weak bones) and arthritis (painful, stiff joints) – both pose a threat to independence and doing things you enjoy.

Osteoporosis New Zealand says 50 per cent of women and one in three men older than 60 will break a bone from osteoporosis. To ensure you aren't one of them, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D and do weight-bearing exercise. Arthritis affects one in three New Zealanders over the age of 45 and the risk increases with age. Body weight and activity levels play a significant role in preventing and managing arthritis.

Keep up your calcium: Eat three serves of calcium-rich, low-fat dairy each day to get the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of 1300mg/day for women over 50, and 1000mg/day for men.

Ensure you have enough vitamin D: Expose your skin to about 15 minutes of sunshine each day, taking care to avoid the peak UV hours of 11am-4pm of summer. Eat oily fish, reduced-fat spread, eggs, and dairy products with added vitamin D to reach an adequate intake: 10 micrograms for those aged 50-70 years, and 15 micrograms for those older than 70.

As we age, skin becomes less efficient at making vitamin D, so food sources become more important.

Exercise: Weight-bearing exercise such as walking is essential for strong bones and regular physical activity also keeps joints mobile.

Watch your weight: Being overweight makes arthritis worse.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, eat more fish: Fish contains long-chain omega-3 fats which can help reduce inflammation.

First published: Apr 2009



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