Scary bones. Unfortunately something millions of Americans have, but many don’t even realize it.
Did you know about 10 million Americans are living with osteoporosis today, while about another 43 million have low bone mass, which puts them at risk for osteoporosis? And, women make up the majority of individuals affected by this crippling disease?
That’s an alarmingly high number. And one of the scariest things about bone diseases like osteoporosis, is that unless you’ve been tested for it, it’s not something most people realize they have until something serious occurs like a bone breaking.
Your Need to Know Facts About Bone Health
Your bones are living, growing tissue that constantly breaks down and replaces itself. Your bones usually stay strong and balanced until they reach their peak bone mass which typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 25. That’s why it’s incredibly important when you’re young to exercise and keep a diet high in calcium and vitamin D. Your parents didn’t bug you to drink your milk for no reason!
The more bone you have at your peak, the less likely you are to break a bone or develop osteoporosis later in life. After peak bone mass, you may start to slowly form less bone than you produce. Bone loss usually speeds up once you are middle aged. Bone loss especially increases for women who have been through menopause. Women can potentially lose 20% or more of their bone density several years following menopause.
What happens when you have osteoporosis, is your body loses more bone than it’s able to produce. The bone production simply can’t keep up with the bone removal. This causes a significant reduction in bone density and increases the likelihood of breaking a bone.
Osteoporosis is one of those diseases where you can take steps to help prevent the disease from taking over your body, however, there are also some factors that are unfortunately out of your control. Below we’ve listed the uncontrollable and controllable factors.
- Age: Individuals over the age of 50 have greater risk.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
- Race: People who are white or of Asian descent have higher risk.
- Menopause: After menopause, women may lose up to 20% or more of their bone mass.
- Family History: If you have family members with osteoporosis, then you’re at a greater risk.
- Small Body Frame: Individuals may have less bone mass to draw from as they start to age.
- Insufficient Levels of Calcium and Vitamin D
- Lack of Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
- Living an Inactive Lifestyle
- Consuming too much Alcohol
- Too much Sodium & Caffeine
Preventative Measures to Take
No matter what age you are, it doesn’t hurt to take precaution and be proactive when it comes to the health of your bones. Below you will find our best bone health prevention tips. We encourage you (if you do not do so already) to incorporate all of these methods into your typical daily/weekly routines. Not only will these recommendations help you avoid scary bones, but they will also contribute to the overall health and wellness of your entire body.
Exercise will always be beneficial for your body no matter what age you are. It’s also one of the best things you can do to promote healthy bones. However, you gain the most benefits from exercise if you start exercising regularly at a young age and continue throughout your life. Nevertheless, it’s still incredibly vital for your bone health because consistent exercise helps build stronger bones and slow bone loss.
To make your bones happy, 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is the recommended amount. Strength training (lifting weights) and weight bearing exercise, which includes workouts such as walking, jogging, dancing, running, etc., are the best types of workouts because they work the most muscle groups and bones.
Calcium is a necessity in the diet as it is critical in strengthening your bones. The recommended daily amount for men and women between the ages of 18-50 is 1,000mg a day. Women over 50 should increase their intake to around 1,200mg, while men should increase to 1,200mg when over the age of 70. You can find calcium naturally in foods such as dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens, and low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant or choose to not consume milk products, milk alternatives like rice, almond & coconut milk often have calcium and vitamin D added to them. Orange juice is another beverage that is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. If you’re not consuming enough calcium from foods, then you may want to also consider taking a daily calcium supplement.
Vitamin D is the next biggest nutrient you need. We can’t stress to you enough how important vitamin D is for your overall health and well-being. It boasts a number of healthy benefits and bone health ranks high on that list. Vitamin D helps ensure your body will be able to better absorb and retain calcium in the bones. So, if you want to reap the benefits of calcium, then you must ensure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Some of your best sources for vitamin D include sunshine, supplements, certain fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks, fortified orange juice, and the milk alternatives mentioned above (again, ones that are fortified with vitamin D).
Osteoporosis can be a very limiting disease restricting you from doing the activities you love and enjoying life to the fullest. While breaking a bone is one way of discovering you have the disease, if you notice you’re getting shorter or your upper back is curving forward, you may want to have your healthcare provider look further into it.
If you have any concerns regarding osteoporosis, we can help. Give us a call at 615-915-1255.
National Osteoporosis Foundation, http://nof.org/
Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis