Healthy Bones – Why They Matter for American Indians and Alaska Natives

March 2012

Strong bones are important for good health. They give our bodies support, help us move, and protect us from injuries. Bones also store minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy. There are things you can do to keep your bones strong and healthy. Some of these include:

  • Eating healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Not smoking or drinking too much alcohol.

These healthy behaviors can help you prevent osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and more likely to break. In fact, half of all women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Most will break a bone in the hip, spine, or wrist.

If you have ever broken a bone, you already know how painful it can be. Even after a broken bone heals, many people continue to have pain for a long time and may need help getting around and taking care of themselves.

Osteoporosis is a real risk for older American Indians and Alaska Natives. Younger women and men with certain risk factors can also get osteoporosis. For example, many Natives do not get enough calcium, a mineral that is very important for strong bones. Also, Native women and men have high rates of diabetes, which can increase the chance of getting osteoporosis.

You have the power to prevent or delay osteoporosis. You may be at increased risk for osteoporosis if you:

  • Have broken a bone after age 45
  • Have a mother or father who broke a hip
  • Have a diet that is low in milk and dairy products
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Drink more than one or two alcoholic beverages a day
  • Have diabetes
  • Are a cancer survivor
  • Exercise less than 3 to 5 days per week
  • Are small and thin
  • Are a woman who has been through menopause.

If you have any of these risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about steps you can take to protect your bones. Following are free resources to help you learn more about your bone health and risk factors for osteoporosis.

Resources on Bone Health and Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
For more information on: Call toll free: Or visit:
Alcohol 800–624–2663
Asthma 800–624–2663
Bone Health and Osteoporosis from the U.S. Surgeon General 800–624–2663
Breast and Prostate Cancer 800–624–2663
Diabetes 800–624–2663
Exercise 800–624–2663
Lactose Intolerance 800–891–5389
Menopause 800–222–2225
Nutrition 800–624–2663
Osteoporosis and Seniors 800–222–2225
(Online only)
Risk Factors
(Check Up On Your Bones web tool)
(Online only)
Smoking 800–624–2663

Do you have osteoporosis or another bone disease? You may be able to help scientists learn more about these conditions. For information about research projects near your home, call the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center at 800–624–BONE (624–2663) or visit You could make a difference!

NIH Publication No. 12–6466

NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center

2 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3676
Phone: 202-223-0344
Toll free: 800-624-BONE (2663)
TTY: 202-466-4315
Fax: 202-293-2356

If you need more information about available resources in your language or another language, contact the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center at

The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center provides patients, health professionals, and the public with an important link to resources and information on metabolic bone diseases. The mission of NIH ORBD~NRC is to expand awareness and enhance knowledge and understanding of the prevention, early detection, and treatment of these diseases as well as strategies for coping with them.

The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases with contributions from:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Most of our bone publications are available online only. Some are available in print. Would you like to order publications on bone disorders to be mailed to you? Visit our online order form.