Are You Playing Your Part in Prevention of Osteoporosis?

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 13, 2020

Written by Karen Giblin -Founder and President, Red Hot Mamas

Osteoporosis is a silent and progressive disease which causes your bones to become weak and brittle increasing their risk of fracture.  The most common bones that break are in the hip, back, and wrist.  Fragile, brittle bones can break even after mild exertions (coughing, lifting items, a minor bump, fall, or even when hugging).  Osteoporosis is insidious because you can’t see, or feel it.  Many people don’t know they have osteoporosis  until a bone breaks.

As women, we have an increased risk for developing osteoporosis due to our hormonal influences. All women are vulnerable to develop osteoporosis and our vulnerability increases as we get older.  Our bones are the sturdiest in our 20’s but bone loss usually starts around age 30.  And, as we age,  our bones become thinner and lighter.  Estrogen helps keep our bones strong.  When women experience menopause at an average age of 51, their estrogen levels fall and some women experience up to a 20% loss of bone mass in the 5 to 7 years following menopause.

You can take steps to keep your bones strong for a lifetime but you must understand your risks and take preventive measures to maintain healthy bones.

Understanding your risk…Here are several risk factors:

  • Age – your risk of osteoporosis increases with age
  • Gender – women are 4 times more likely to have osteoporosis than men
  • Early menopause – if you have had an early menopause before age 45
  • Menopause – estrogen levels drop and women experience a dramatic change in bone
  • Family history – of osteoporosis
  • Nutrition – if your diet is low in both calcium and vitamin D because these play a role in building and maintaining bone strength
  • Physical activity – bone formation occurs in response to physical activity so refrain from a sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking – reduces the production of bone cells (osteoblasts)
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Corticosteroid drugs taken for a long time
  • Certain conditions such as celiac disease, hyperthyroidism
  • Underweight or have suffered from an eating disorder

Playing your part in prevention…

The best way is to stop osteoporosis before it starts by taking the following steps:

  • Measure your height.  If you see any decrease in height it may be a sign of osteoporosis
  • Weigh yourself.  Low body weight is a risk factor for osteoporosis
  • Get regular medical checkups
  • Provide your doctor with a complete family and personal medical history.  Make a list of risk factors.  Bring a complete list of all medications you take regularly and include over the counter medications and nutritional supplements
  • Have a baseline bone density test
  • Ask your doctor what exercise is appropriate for you.  Get regular weight-bearing exercise.  But be careful about activities that might cause you to fall.  Strength training will help build bone and stretching exercises to improve flexibility and balance to reduce falls
  • Eat foods that build bone – consume foods that contain calcium and vitamin D.  Calcium rich foods include  (spinach, kale, soybeans, some fish-like sardines and salmon, and calcium fortified orange juice).  Foods that provide vitamin D include (some fatty fish-tuna, mackerel, salmon), cheese, egg yolks, and some dairy products like orange juice)
  • Don’t overdo it by drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Get plenty of sun exposure for vitamin D
  • Wear solid type shoes when you go outdoors
  • Check your home for fall hazards. Make sure you don’t trip on items within your house
  • Stop smoking
  • Talk to your doctor about available treatments if you are at high risk of osteoporosis or already experiencing bone loss