Osteoporosis and Bone Health

Here's what you can do to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

You may think of osteoporosis as a disease for the elderly, but it can strike at any age.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, half of women and up to 25 percent of men in the U.S. over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Here’s what you can do to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

Are You At-Risk?

First you must determine if you are a prime candidate for osteoporosis.  The disease causes bones to become brittle and weak and more susceptible to fractures. Around 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis, but it can be prevented.

By the time you reach your 30’s, you start losing some of your bone mass.  For women, this accelerates during menopause.  Bone loss for men occurs much more slowly. However, by age 75, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women.

Some of the key risk factors of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Being over age 50
  • Being female
  • Menopause
  • Having a family history of the disease
  • Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Having an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking

Prevention and Treatment

A good first step in preventing and treating osteoporosis is to get screened with a bone density test.  It takes about five minutes and is a simple, painless process. But there are other things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis:

  1. Boost your calcium: The best way to get bone-building calcium is through your diet. Dairy products (low-fat milk, cheeses and yogurt), dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards), sardines and salmon, cooked dried beans, soy foods, almonds and fortified cereals and juices are all good sources of calcium. Vitamin D and magnesium are also important in helping your body absorb calcium.
  2. Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises like walking, and strength training with weights or resistant bands three or four times a week can also significantly improve your bone health.
  3. Control these habits: Avoid smoking, limit alcohol to no more than two or three drinks per day, and limit caffeine (coffee, tea or caffeinated soda) to three cups a day.

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