What is osteoporosis and how can I prevent it?

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What is osteoporosis and how can I prevent it?

What Are the Signs
of Osteoporosis?

In the beginning, there are no signs of osteoporosis bone loss. It is a slow process that is usually only identified after a fracture or bone density scan. Our bones are living tissue that is in a continual cycle of breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bones. There are several factors that can affect this process of bone loss, with age being one of the main factors. When less new bone is being created than that being broken down, the bones lose density. Instead of a nice thick honeycomb appearance, the bones begin to develop holes and have a thin appearance.

What May Cause Bone Loss?

-As you get older, your risk of developing osteoporosis increases.
-Women are diagnosed with the disease more than men. Both may be associated with a decrease in hormones -estrogen or testosterone.
-Frame size with thin individuals and tall people is at a greater risk.
-If you have a family member with the disease, there is a greater chance that you will develop it too.
-Smoking.
-Anorexia Nervosa.
-Drinking alcohol.
-Certain medications may increase your risk. Talk to your doctor about the medications you take.
-Lack of exercise.
-A poor diet lacking calcium and Vitamin D.

Do I Need to Do Anything With
My Children to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Although osteoporosis appears in older individuals, bone health begins when we are children. The goal is to build strong bones when young and then maintain your bones throughout life. Between the ages of 9 to 18 years of age, boys to 20 are the critical bone mass-building years. At this time, more bone is being added than removed. The more mass you create when young, the more bone you have when older.

What Can I Do to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Changes in lifestyles can improve bone health as well as general health.

  • Get regular exercise. Jogging, walking, dancing, gardening, ti chi, etc., all help bone health. Any weight-bearing exercise, exercise where you are standing, will improve your bone health.
  • Improving your diet to include calcium sources such as dairy products-milk, yogurt, and cheese- will provide your body with the necessary building blocks.
  • Milk products should be fortified with vitamin D.
  • Other nutrients (like vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc, as well as protein) help develop sturdy bones. Milk has many of these nutrients. So do foods like lean meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, and oranges.

While diet is preferred, many individuals use a combination of diet and supplement pills. Check with your doctor for the kind he suggests. You can pick these up at grocery stores, drug stores, or conveniently online. Recommended calcium intake is 1,300 mg daily for those 9 to 18 years old. Between 18 and 50, 1,000 mg per day, and after fifty years, increase intake to 1,200 mg per day.

This article is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor for information and recommendations. A word of caution to older individuals, those at high risk for osteoporosis, or if you are age 40 or older, check with your doctor before you begin a regular exercise program.

Resources:
Web MD
Medline Plus

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