National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19) offers an opportunity for women of all ages to make their health a priority, but don’t forget about the foundation – your bones.

The truth of the matter is your skeleton is not static. It is alive and can change depending on the forces put upon it and into it regarding nutritional health.

“That change can be scary because it means we can lose bone density, but it is also very powerful in a positive way. If my skeleton is not what I want it to be, I can do things to positively affect it,” said Suzanne M. Yandow, M.D., of Texas A&M Physicians and a professor of surgery in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

Bone health is important for women of all ages. According to Dr. Yandow, it is especially vital for adolescent-age girls to take ownership of their own bone health since puberty is when women begin to build up their bone bank – the structure and integrity of bones that the body will continue to draw from throughout life.

To build up the bone bank, Dr. Yandow recommends women decrease soda intake (phosphoric acid negatively impacts the calcium your bones can absorb), eat calcium-rich food, take daily calcium supplements and build upper body strength to support the back muscles.

The recommended daily intake of calcium includes 1,500 milligrams for teens, 1,800 milligrams during pregnancy, 1,800-2,000 milligrams for breastfeeding mothers and 1,500 milligrams for women over age 65.

“Choose a calcium supplement that you like the flavor, and keep it in a place where you will remember to take it,” Dr. Yandow said. “And don’t forget that no matter the stage, you can take better care of yourself and positively impact your bone health.”

— Blair Williamson