Skip to Content

Do bones get thinner as you age?

Yes, bones tend to get thinner and weaker with age. This is a natural part of the aging process but can also lead to health issues like osteoporosis if the bone loss is significant.

Why do bones get thinner with age?

There are a few reasons why bones lose strength and density as we get older:

  • Reduced hormone levels – Estrogen and testosterone help maintain bone density. As these hormone levels decline with age, bones are impacted.
  • Inadequate nutrition – Not getting enough calcium, vitamin D and protein can contribute to bone loss.
  • Less physical activity – Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, helps stimulate bone-building cells. With less activity, bones weaken.
  • Other medical conditions – Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and hyperthyroidism can accelerate bone loss.

What happens to bones as we age?

Here’s an overview of the age-related changes that occur in our bones:


Bones are at their peak density and strength. New bone tissue is continually formed while old tissue is removed to keep bones healthy.


Bones start to lose some density, particularly in women after menopause when estrogen levels drop rapidly. Men experience more gradual bone loss.

60s and beyond

Bone loss accelerates in both men and women. Over time bones become thinner, weaker and more fragile. The rate of loss varies between individuals.

How much bone density is lost with age?

The amount of bone loss that occurs with age can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some general patterns have emerged from research studies:

  • Women lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5-7 years after menopause.
  • Men lose bone density more slowly, up to 8% in the first 10 years after age 50.
  • After age 65, both men and women lose bone density at about 0.5-1% per year.

Here is a table summarizing the typical rate of bone loss at different ages:

Age Range Women Men
20-40 years Stable bone density Stable bone density
40-55 years Up to 20% loss over 5-7 years after menopause Up to 8% loss over 10 years after age 50
Over 65 years 0.5-1% loss per year 0.5-1% loss per year

What health problems can bone loss cause?

Significant loss of bone density can lead to health issues including:


Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone structure. It weakens bones and increases fracture risk. About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over age 50 develop osteoporosis.


Thinner, weaker bones are more prone to breaking. Fractures are common in older adults, especially in the wrist, hip and spine which support weight.

Loss of height

Compressed vertebrae from osteoporosis can curve the spine and cause height loss of 2-4 inches.

Chronic pain

Fractures and compressed vertebrae can result in lasting pain and disability if bones become too weak.

How to maintain strong bones as you age

While some bone loss is inevitable with aging, there are things you can do to keep bones as healthy as possible:

  • Get enough calcium – Adults up to age 70 need 1000-1200mg per day.
  • Take vitamin D supplements – 800 IU per day is recommended for older adults.
  • Do weight-bearing and resistance exercises – Walking, jogging, tennis and strength training help stress bones.
  • Don’t smoke – Smoking increases bone loss and fracture risk.
  • Limit alcohol – Heavy drinking raises risk of fractures.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin K – Leafy greens, beans and olive oil support bone health.


Bone loss is a normal part of aging. After age 40, bones gradually become thinner and more fragile. Significant loss of bone tissue can lead to osteoporosis, fractures and other health issues. Staying active and eating a diet rich in bone-supporting nutrients can help slow age-related bone loss.