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Weak Bones
Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The University of Arizona

Written by
Scottie Misner, Associate Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutritional Sciences

What are Weak Bones?

Weak bones, or osteoporosis, happen when the bones in the body are weak and can break easily. Weak bones happen when the amount of bone loss in the body is larger than the amount of bone gain.Bones can get weak slowly over time. Often a person does not know they have weak bones until a bone breaks. Weak Bone

What are the signs of weak bones?

Osteoporosis When the bones in the back get weak, they can break. These broken bones cause a person to get shorter and shorter. In time a person may have stooped shoulders.
  • Being a woman
  • Being White or Asian
  • Being older in age
  • Being thin
  • Lack of exercise
  • Having a family history of broken bones
  • Some drugs, smoking
  • History of poor eating (low calcium intake)
  • Early menopause (before age 45 years)

What is so bad about weak bones?

When you have weak bones, simple things like sneezing, bending, and stepping can cause a bone to break. Broken bones can lead to:

  • Disability
  • Death

How do you know if you have weak bones?

  • Tools that measure the amount of bone you have (bone density) can tell a person if they have weak bones.
  • A doctor can look at your risk factors for weak bones and measure how strong your bones are.
  • If you have weak bones, your doctor may give you special pills or medicine.

What foods should I eat for strong bones?

  • 3 to 4 servings of low-fat milk and foods made from low-fat milk like cheese and yogurt.
  • A mix of fruits, vegetables, bread, and low-fat meats, fish, and chicken.
Food for strong bones

These foods will give your bones all the vitamins, minerals, and protein thet need to be strong.

Foods with Calcium

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Ice cream
  • Juices with added calcium
  • Tofu with added calcium
  • Breads with added calcium
  • Cereals with added calcium
  • Dark-green, leafy vegetables
Tip: Choose low-fat milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.
Foods with calcium


What about Calcium and Vitamin D pills

  • Calcium and vitamin D pills (supplements) are helpful for treating weak bones.
  • Choose a pill with 500 milligrams (mg) or less of calcium.
  • Take a calcium carbonate pill like Oscal®, Tums®, or Caltrate®, with food.
  • Take a calcium citrate pill like Citrical® without food.

How much calcium do I need each day?

Age(Years) Calcium Needs
4 - 8 800 mg
9 - 18 1200 mg
19 - 50 1000 mg
50 and older 1200 mg

Bottom Line

If you have weak bones:

  • Eat foods with calcium
  • Get vitamin D from foods and the sun
  • Exercise
  • Talk to your doctor

The University of Arizona is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Any products, services, or organizations that are mentioned, shown, or indirectly implied in this publication do not imply endorsement by the University of Arizona.
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Published September 2002
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