Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects the lives of ten million Americans currently and is expected to affect many million more in the next decade. This condition is characterized by deteriorating, weak bones. Bones become very brittle and breaks are likely to occur. Bone fractures range from occurring in the hip and spine to the arms and wrists. The breaking of bones from osteoporosis can be very dangerous, as a broken hip and spine require major surgery and can result in long-term disability. In individuals with osteoporosis, bones can break as easy as you stubbing your toe or coughing; therefore, this condition should not be considered petty.

Men and women are both at risk for osteoporosis; however, women have a much higher prevalence of it. Typically, osteoporosis develops in older adults, but it is possible to develop it anytime in life. A few risk factors for developing it include: family history, short/thin stature, inactivity, low calcium or vitamin D intake, being female, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. While you cannot decrease some of the risk factors, you should work to eliminate those that you can, as it can be preventable. Most importantly, be sure to get enough calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity to help build your bones!

The majority of bone mass is accrued by the early to mid twenties; therefore, it is important to build your bone mass before you reach this point! It is recommended that you get at least 1000 mg of calcium each day. Additionally, getting enough vitamin D is essential because it helps with the absorption of calcium. Check out the milk section under the food facts page for information about what foods are good sources of calcium. A few good sources include: milk (think skim or low-fat), tofu, calcium fortified orange juice, sardines, and ice cream or frozen yogurt. By looking at the nutrition label on foods, you will find the amount of calcium present; use these labels to help you increase your calcium intake.

As you get older, it is important to monitor your bone mineral density, which will show if you are at risk for osteoporosis. A DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is extremely accurate in determining the amount of calcium in your bones; you may want to consider getting your bone mineral density measured later in adulthood. This scan can not only show if you have osteoporosis, but it can also show if you have a condition called osteopenia. Osteopenia occurs before osteoporosis and signals that an individual is at risk for osteoporosis. It signifies that the calcium levels in their bones are below normal. If you are osteopenic or have osteoporosis, medications can be taken to help stop bone weakening and prevent fractures. It is important to be aware of the calcium levels in your bones so that if action needs to take place to treat osteoporosis, it can be done quickly! Treat your bones with care and nourish them appropriately now, so later in life you will not have to deal with the devastating consequences that accompany osteoporosis.

References:

National Osteoporosis Foundation

WebMD

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