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Before anyone considers working out, exercising or in any way exerting their bones and muscles, they should be certain of good bone health. Bone density does diminish as you age, but can occur at any point in life. 

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. Whether you lose bone mass or produce too little, or both, you can be at risk for osteoporosis. Bones are actually living, growing tissue. Most of us think of bones as hard, rock-like objects that reliably remain rigid and strong forever. That's not necessarily the case.

Women can lose up to 20 percent of bone density after menopause. It can also happen to men.

There are certain warning signs to watch for, as osteoporosis and osteopenia typically do not have discrete symptoms. Be cognizant of changes like these:

1) Loss of height over a period of time.

2) Any pain from a fracture or vertebrae problems.

3) Bones that fracture easily.

Before you may experience any of these symptoms, it's never too soon for preventative steps. Adults should have 700 mg of calcium each day. You can get this calcium through eating yogurt, a cheese sandwich, a handful of almonds or a spinach salad. As you eat calcium-rich foods, make sure that you are also getting Vitamin D every day. This helps the calcium get absorbed by your bones. If you spend 15 minutes in the sunshine, two to three times a week, that should be sufficient.

For a diet rich in Vitamin D, try oily fish, egg yolks and cereals that are fortified. Remember, these facts and amounts will vary according to your bone health. 

Another important component would be to quit smoking. Smoking reduces the blood supply to bones. The nicotine in cigarettes slows the production of bone-forming cells, so the result would be less production of bone mass. Smoking also decreases the ability of the body to absorb calcium.

Another factor to be considered is consumption of salt. Our bodies should have 6 grams of salt daily, but with added salt and processed foods, many of us are getting too much. Read labels and adjust your intake.

Finally, be active! Swimming, walking, running, biking and tennis are great for bone health. The most important thing is to simply keep moving. This will also help you maintain a healthy weight.

There are bone density tests available and these are highly recommended, especially for those who are aging or have noticed any of the signs listed above. As always, consult your doctor and be proactive about bone health.

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