Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can be difficult to live with. Unfortunately, many people don't realize that they have it until it's too late. Usually, the first sign for many people is bone fracture due to the weakening of one's bones.
The decreased bone density can cause painful injury, which can take a toll on your health, happiness, and wallet. It's important to determine whether you're at risk for osteoporosis before it's too late. If you find that you fall into one or more of these categories, you get a bone density test to check the status of your bones.
Women are known to be significantly more likely to get osteoporosis. In fact, 80% Americans with the disease are women. Men have larger, denser bones to begin with, and are less likely to lose bone mass with age than women are. This is because sex hormone levels, such as those of estrogen and progesterone, greatly fluctuate during the menopause transition. The reduced estrogen in particular significantly speeds bone degeneration, leading to osteopenia - the precursor to osteoporosis - and ultimately osteoporosis.
The general wear and tear of life causes a gradual decline in bone density. Individual's bones are strongest during their early twenties, but as life progresses, the skeletal structure becomes worn. This can be due to several factors, including lifestyle choices and genetics.
Another central cause for the disease is nutrient deficiencies. The bones need certain vitamins and minerals to stay strong. While calcium is essential for building and strengthening your bones, it is not properly absorbed without optimal levels of vitamin D - at least 600 IU (international units) daily. Vitamin K can also help with calcium absorption.
Underweight or Overweight
Having a low body mass index (BMI) can be a sign of a weak, frail bone structure, and in addition, possibly signal that you do not intake enough nutrients daily. On the other hand, if you have a high body mass index (BMI) or are obese, it puts excess weight on the bones, which can weaken them further.
Several studies have confirmed that smokers are at a much higher risk for osteoporosis. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes hinder bone growth and quicken bone reabsorption. Smoking also lowers estrogen levels significantly, which proves detrimental to bone health.
Those Taking Certain Medications
Several medications have bone loss or fracture as a side effect. It can be prescriptions for anything from asthma to seizures. Make sure to thoroughly check your medication labels, as well as speak to your doctor to ensure that it does not increase your risk of osteoporosis.
If after reading this list you find that you are at risk for osteoporosis, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. The first step should be a bone density test, and thereafter seeking immediate solutions, such as increased vitamin intake and the elimination of triggers. Don't let menopause be met with broken bones - take initiative.
- Brown University. (n.d.). Osteoporosis. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/common_college_health_issues/osteoporosis.php
- Iwamoto, J. et al. (2005). Comparative effects of vitamin K and vitamin D supplementation on calcium balance in young rats fed normal or low calcium diets. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 51(4), 211-215. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16261991
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2011). What is Osteoporosis? Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp
- Office on Women's Health. (2008). Healthy Aging. In: The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for All Ages. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). 18 Ways Smoking Affects Your Health. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://smokefree.gov/health-effects
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Osteoporosis. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/osteoporosis