5 Facts for Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle as the result of bone loss. It occurs when the rate of bone loss is more rapid than the rate of bone building, and is caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Age (most people are diagnosed when they are 50-years old or more)
  • Lifestyle (those who are sedentary are more likely to get osteoporosis than those who exercise regularly)
  • Diet
  • Gender (it’s more prevalent in women than men)
  • Race (Caucasian and Asian women have the highest rates of osteoporosis)
  • Genetic predisposition (it runs in your family)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Particular medications (steroids such as prednisone and cortisone, for example)
  • Smoking increases your risk.

Low bone mass and osteoporosis are considered major health threats in the United States, affecting more than 44 million adults, aged 50-years and older.

5 facts you might not know about osteoporosis

Here are 5 facts you might not know about osteoporosis, along with bonus tips for osteoporosis prevention.

Fact 1: Osteoporosis is not an old people’s disease

Yes, it is a major health risk for those 50-years and older, and yes the majority of those diagnosed with osteoporosis are seniors, but the condition begins far earlier in life. By the time bone loss is typically noticed, bones are already diminished. This means you can do quite a bit to prevent bone loss in the decades leading up to your 50s. In fact, most people reach their “bone mass peak” at 20 or so, and then bone mass diminishes from there.

Start thinking about osteoporosis prevention now, and discuss it with your doctor, so you never have to worry about playing catch-up.

  • Eat a diet rich in leafy greens. Milk and dairy products are rich in calcium, calcium is also found in leafy greens (kale, bok choy, chard, collard greens, and broccoli, for example). Tofu and almond milk also have calcium but the amount varies so please read the label.

Fact 2: Weight-bearing exercises are an effective way to build bone massOSTEOPOROSIS

The more your bones experience resistance, the more mass they put on. Resistance tells the body, “Hey, we need some extra strength here so we don’t collapse under this extra weight!” In addition to calorie-burning cardio exercises, try to incorporate weight-bearing exercises, which include things like yoga, tennis and racquet sports, brisk walking and hiking, bike riding, and so on.

  • Get moving both inside and outside your house. Even day-to-day activities such as gardening, yard work, mowing, heavy cleaning, pushing the vacuum, etc., provide enough resistance to stimulate bone building.

Fact 3: A bone fracture or break may be the first indication you have of low bone mass

Often, a fracture or break is the first sign of bone weakness.  Osteoporosis is considered a “silent” disease because there’s no way to know you have it unless you’ve been screened by a healthcare professional or you suffer an unfortunate fall or accident, leading to X-rays, that result in the radiologist or physician letting you know bones are looking weak.

  • Schedule a bone density screening. Speak to your doctor about scheduling a bone density screening. In most cases, this will be covered by your healthcare insurance, especially if you are 65-years or older, have a family history of osteoporosis, are on – or have been on – prescription steroids for a span of time at any point in your life, or if you have any other risk factors for osteoporosis.

Fact 4: Long-term and/or excessive alcohol consumption increases bone loss

If you drink alcohol on a daily basis, it might be time to cut down. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, “A high intake of alcohol confers a significant risk of future fracture (e.g., over 4 units of alcohol/day can double the risk of hip fracture). The risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men increases greatly with heavy alcohol intake, particularly with long term intake.”

  • Be honest with healthcare professionals. Ask your doctor or nurse practitioner about your drinking habits and whether or not they are conducive to a healthy lifestyle. This includes smoking habits as well – since smoking is also a risk factor in both osteoporosis and future fractures. Honesty is always the best policy, and you’re guaranteed to receive compassionate and understanding guidance, rather than judgment or chastisement.

Fact 5: Taking calcium supplements probably isn’t enough to prevent bone loss

Patients often feel they’re not at risk for osteoporosis or bone loss because they’ve taken a daily nutritional supplement that includes calcium. The fact is, however, that specific form of calcium might not be enough. For one thing, not all calcium additives are considered equal and some are easier for the body to assimilate (process) better than others. Also, too much calcium can be a bad thing.

  • Talk to your doctor about supplement use. Always discuss supplement/medication use with your doctor to make sure you’re taking the right nutrients, in the right doses. This ensures your body is getting what it needs, in the right forms, and without going over- or under-board.

Family Wellness Center is happy to meet with you to discuss your risk of osteoporosis and bone loss and coordinate a bone density screening if this is needed. Contact us to schedule an appointment. 360-260-2773.

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