Osteoporosis is a big deal because people with it are a high risk of chronic pain and bone breaks while doing even the most routine activities like standing, walking, or sneezing. Bone breaks are painful and can even cause scoliosis and permanent worsening in body posture. Osteoporosis also makes spine surgery much risker.
What are some important risk factors for Osteoporosis?
The biggest risk factor of osteoporosis is age. Throughout your life, your body breaks down old bone and grows new bone. However, when you’re in your 30s, your body starts breaking down bone faster than it’s able to replace it. This leads to bone that’s less dense and more fragile.
Menopause occurs in women around the ages of 45 to 55 years. Changes in hormone levels associated menopause can cause a woman’s body to lose bone even more quickly.
Men continue to lose bone at this age, but at a slower rate than women do. However, by the time they reach the ages of 65 to 70, women and men are usually losing bone at the same rate.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis include family history of osteoporosis, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, smoking, and low body weight.
What can one do about osteoporosis?
- Assess your bone health status
Ask your doctor for a bone health assessment which will likely include a risk assessment and a scan to measure your bone mineral density.
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet and normal body weight
A healthy, balanced diet should include plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables. A healthy diet will ensure an adequate intake of the many different nutrients that contribute to bone health. Maintaining a normal body weight is important. Both obesity and being underweight, have a negative impact on bones and both can increase the risk of a bone break after a fall. Designing a healthy diet can be daunting. Check out the 7-day osteoporosis diet plan.
- Get Enough Vitamin D & Calcium
Eat plenty of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. Sources of calcium include dairy products, nuts/seeds, fish (with bones), beans, lentils, grains, and leafy greens. Vitamin D sources include sunlight, fish, eggs, and fortified foods. If your diet alone does not provide the recommended intake of calcium or vitamin D, ask your primary care doctor about supplementation.
Recommended Daily Amount
Recommended Daily Amount
Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation, iofbonehealth.org
- Stay physically active
Regular exercise, such as walking, climbing stairs, and light weight training, massively benefit your bone healthy. At least 15-20 minutes 3 times a week is sufficient for building stronger bones. Check out osteoporosis prevention exercises.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
Smoking and excessive alcohol intake can lead to significantly faster bone loss. You can stop at any point to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Prevent Falls
If your bones are weak, fractures can occur after a minor slip or a call. You can reduce the risk of a fall by taking measures to make your bone slip resistant, and by wearing shoes that are slip resistant.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do both to prevent and to treat osteoporosis, from eating right and exercising to taking appropriate medications.
If you think you’re at risk of osteoporosis, or if you’ve been diagnosed with it, talk to your primary care doctor. They can work with you to put together a prevention or treatment plan that can help improve your bone health and reduce your risk of complications!