Osteoporosis is a common ailment that many people associate with elderly individuals. However, many cases of osteoporosis could be prevented by lifestyle choices and active preparation when people are younger.
Learn about the risk factors for developing osteoporosis and why taking care of your bones early in life can mean a reduced risk of osteoporosis as you age. Make the commitment now to help yourself and even your children have healthy bones for life.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Osteoporosis is caused by reduced bone density. Over time, bones become weak and brittle, more prone to breaking in situations where the bone typically could withstand a forceful impact. Even a harsh cough could end up cracking or even breaking the ribs of someone who has pronounced osteoporosis.
Some people have a naturally higher risk of developing osteoporosis than others. People who are short, female, and white or Asian are more likely to have trouble with their bones.
Hormone imbalances can also cause osteoporosis. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about the likelihood of developing the disease. Sex hormones prevent the loss of bone strength, so your doctor might test your hormones when you reach middle age to see if you need supplemental treatment to protect your bones.
Can Young, Healthy Bones Become Old, Healthy Bones?
So, if you meet most of the risk factors, are you doomed to a retirement of brittle bones? The answer is no. Prevention begins at a young age, and your actions during your younger years can make all the difference. The following steps will help make bones strong enough to hold through old age, especially for teens and people in early adulthood.
Get Enough Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium loss is the reason osteoporosis develops. Your body uses your bones as storage for calcium, and it draws calcium out of the bones as needed. When you have a good reserve of calcium in the bones, your body can get what it needs without causing your bones to suffer.
Vitamin D keeps your bones strong by helping you absorb calcium and other minerals. However, many people have diets that are not sufficiently high in calcium. And, living in Minnesota, it can be difficult to get enough Vitamin D from the sun, especially in the winter months and if you consistently wear sunscreen.
Women may lose calcium from their bones when pregnant and breastfeeding, and they might not build the reserve back up again. Calcium and vitamin D should be part of your daily dietary intake, and you might also take supplements to help support strong bones.
Most people associate dairy products with calcium and vitamin D, and these are fine sources. However, vegetables are also very high in calcium, especially dark leafy greens. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are good sources for vitamin D. If you don’t enjoy milk or other dairy products, increase your consumption of calcium-rich vegetables and fatty fish for vitamin D.
Seek Treatment for Any Disordered Eating
Eating disorders, which are also more common in women, put your body in a near constant state of under-nourishment. People who have bulimia lose nutrients through purging and people with anorexia do not get enough through under-eating. In both cases, the body pulls calcium from the bones to keep the nervous system functioning.
Without treatment and proper nutrition to rebuild the bones, eating disorders will cause your bones to be weaker once you reach the later decades of your life.
One of the most effective prevention methods for osteoporosis is exercise. Teens and young adults that are active with a good diet will have beautifully strong bones. This is because your body responds to impact and stress during weight-bearing exercises like running, lifting, biking, and climbing by reinforcing the bones to endure the force of the activity.
As a result, active people have the strongest bones.
Bone density testing
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 65 and older be screened for osteoporosis with a bone density test. And, women under age 65 who are at increased risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture should also be tested.
A bone mineral density test compares your bone density to the bones of an average healthy young adult. The test result, known as a T-score, tells you how strong your bones are, whether you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, and your risk for having a fracture.
We can help
It is never too late to improve your bone health. To learn more or schedule your bone density test, contact Stellis Health.