20 minutes of sunlight and a glass of milk can keep osteoporosis at bay

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India

Osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiencies are the two new epidemics of the society said Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India and MTNL Perfect Health Mela.


Drinking less milk, quitting sunlight exposure and omitting the traditional aerobic indoor games are few reasons for these new epidemics. Younger professionals also stay indoors with practically no sunlight exposure. This is especially true for medical residents.

Here are few tips to prevent osteoporosis and strengthen the bones:

  1. Stop smoking: One should stop smoking as it increases bone loss.
  2. Eat a calcium–rich diet: The aim should be to get 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day in postmenopausal woman or a man over age 65. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, tofu and other soy products; orange juice fortified with calcium, canned salmon with the bones, and cooked spinach. The alternative is to take calcium supplements.
  3. Get enough vitamin D: Vitamin D levels are influenced by how much sunlight one gets. Levels tend to decrease in older adults, especially in winter and in people who are unable to leave their home. One should consider taking a supplement to make sure one gets the recommended daily amount.
  4. Get exposure to sunlight of at least 20 minutes per day. The exposure should at least be of 20 minutes every day for a month in a year.
  5. Get enough protein in diet: An adequate intake of protein in diet, combined with an adequate intake of calcium helps to increase bone density. One should aim for about 12% of calories to come from proteins such as legumes, poultry, seafood, meat, dairy products, nuts and seeds. However, too much protein with too little calcium can be harmful.
  6. Weight–bearing exercises: These are activities such as walking, jogging and stair climbing that one should do on the feet, with your bones supporting your weight. They work directly on the bones of the legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss.
  7. Weightlifting exercises: These exercises are also called resistance training or strength training. They strengthen muscles and bones in the arms, chest and upper spine. They can work directly on the bones to slow mineral loss.
  8. Get adequate vitamin K: This vitamin may be helpful in enhancing bone strength. Green leafy vegetables are the best sources of vitamin K. If one is taking a blood thinner he or she should check with the doctor.
  9. Avoid excessive alcohol: Women should limit alcohol consumption to less than one ounce a day and men should limit it to less than two ounces.
  10. Limit cola drinks: People who have high cola intake often have lower bone density.

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