Preventing osteoporosis

(CNN) -- It's never too early to start thinking about preventing osteoporosis. That's the message from doctors at Johns Hopkins University.

Researchers there say about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, a gradual thinning of the bones. That low bone density can lead to fractures.

Women generally have lower bone density than men and a drop in estrogen levels can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Johns Hopkins says 50% of American women age 50 or older will break a bone because of the condition.

But experts say there are things that can help prevent osteoporosis, like healthy eating. Eat foods rich in calcium to get the recommended intake for your age. Or consider a supplement to fill in the gap.

The same goes for protein. Don't skimp on that either. It can be found in both animal and nonanimal sources. While we know exercise has a range of benefits, it's also good for bone health. Experts recommend weight bearing and resistance exercises to get the maximum benefit.

Finally just make some positive lifestyle changes, that includes maintaining a healthy weight, getting rid of those cigarettes and cutting back on alcohol consumption.