Keeping The Bone Thief at Bay: Preventing Osteoporosis

The bone thief can sneak up on a person unexpectedly. Just a sudden fall can be a visit from the bone thief. The individual may not even notice any severe pain and may think that the injury is not worth getting checked out. Only later, when that person can no longer ignore the pain and visits the doctor, is osteoporosis diagnosed.

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Osteoporosis is very common

Osteoporosis is a common disorder which affects more than 4.5 million women over the age of 50 and around 800,000 men in the same age group. This disorder weakens the bones, making bones brittle and more vulnerable to fracture. There are no early warning signs; all too often a fracture or broken bone is the first indication.

The bare bones of aging

Typically, a person who is young has a healthy bone density which is able to replenish on a regular basis. Once people reach 35 years of age, the replenishing process begins to slow down. After 50 years of age, the depletion of bone mass accelerates. Over 60 years of age, the bones may become weakened and unable to withstand normal levels of stress. Osteoporosis is not a natural part of growing old. People can keep the bone thief at bay by making some lifestyle changes now.

Exercise

Though many people may be unaware, exercise can help prevent osteoporosis. Particularly important are weight-bearing exercises which will help strengthen the bone structure and the body’s core. Healthcare providers recommend that people exercise for at least 20 minutes each day; even just going for a walk can help. Performing aerobic exercise 3-4 times each week can also help to increase bone mass.

Calcium and vitamin D

Adequate daily calcium intake is vital for keeping bones strong. Calculations suggest that 70% of American adults do not meet the daily recommended requirements for either calcium or vitamin D. People who are supplementing calcium intake should make sure to also take an adequate amount of vitamin D so that the calcium is properly absorbed and retained in the bones. Natural sources of calcium include beans, grains, fatty fish, and vegetables such as spinach. Natural sources of vitamin D are salmon, tuna, cereal, eggs, mushrooms, and pork.

Screening can lock out the bone thief

Bone mineral density (BMD) screening can allow doctors to see if a patient’s bones are in good shape. Screening also shows if bone density is worsening or getting better, which can help prevent osteoporosis. Patients should discuss screening recommendations and guidelines with a physician.

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