Bone Health Basics
Did you know that our bones continue to grow until we’re about 30 years old? When you reach this age, your bones will likely be the strongest and densest they’ll ever be. Bone density loss becomes a concern for many as we age because it can lead to the brittle bone condition osteoporosis. This May is National Osteoporosis Month, and it’s the perfect excuse to prioritize bone health. Learn the risk factors for osteoporosis and ways you can maintain bone density as you age. Care for your bones!
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which loss of tissue leads to fragile and brittle bones. It’s often referred to as ‘the silent disease’ because of its gradual onset overtime that presents no symptoms. The condition affects roughly 55% of Americans aged 50 and older, and it is also the most common cause of fractures.
What are the Risk Factors?
Because bone density and tissue loss can occur gradually over time, certain risk factors for osteoporosis can be addressed in order to prevent the onset of the condition. These risk factors include:
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the recommended prevention methods for a number of health conditions, and the prevention of osteoporosis is no exception. Focus on getting active and eating the right foods this month and every month to both benefit your waistline and your bones.
- Exercise – Add both weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to your workout routine to promote better bone health. Running, walking, and using the elliptical are great ways to keep bones strong. To strengthen all the major muscle groups that support your bones, use free weights, resistance bands, or even your own bodyweight during your workouts.
- Healthy diet – Many Americans eat a diet high in fat and salt, and these poor habits lead us to far exceed our daily recommended sodium intake. Many of us know that sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems, but it also causes calcium loss and makes our bones fragile over time. Better bone health calls for us to eat a balanced diet and foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300mg daily, and reach for foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you’re looking for a healthy recipe that’s quick and easy, try these flourless egg pancakes that will give you the vitamin D you need to care for your bones. Also, consider taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement with vitamin K.
Did you know that certain cases of osteoporosis are drug-induced? Although your medications are supposed to treat your existing health ailment, they can also contribute to bone density loss and osteoporosis later in life. Two medications that have been linked to the condition are:
- Invokana – This SGLT2 Inhibitor helps type 2 diabetics by regulating their blood glucose levels. Although it has been proven effective at treating the chronic condition, recent lawsuits have been filed because the medication has also been linked to a higher risk of below-the-knee amputations and bone fractures.
- Corticosteroids – This class of medications is used as a form of pain relief and a means of preventing severe inflammation for those who are living with rheumatologic conditions. Despite the drugs’ effectiveness at helping those with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the popular medication has also been shown to cause osteoporosis, glaucoma, and high blood pressure.
Age & Gender
These are two risk factors. They’re out of our control, but understanding your predisposed risk for osteoporosis can be the encouragement you need to actively care for your bones.
- 10 million Americans live with osteoporosis, and women make up 80% of those affected. In general, women are at a greater risk of developing the disease because they have smaller bones than men. During menopause, women also experience a decrease in estrogen production, a hormone that also helps protect our bones.
- The older we get, the greater our risk is of developing osteoporosis. Our bones naturally deteriorate during the aging process, making those in their older years more susceptible to the condition and more prone to severe injuries. A wrist that was once able to withstand the pressure of a fall could easily fracture as a result of old age and poor bone health.
Start Taking Care of Your Bones Today
National Osteoporosis Month isn’t the only time that you can prioritize bone health. Remember to exercise often, eat a well-balanced diet, and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your medications. By making an effort each and every day of the year, you can strive to prevent the onset of brittle bones and live a healthy life.