Women may be at greater risk of osteoporosis because of their smaller bones, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a woman’s disease. This damaging disease can and does weaken the bones of both men and women, increasing the risk of fractures and broken bones. In fact, some 54 million Americans are dealing with low bone mass or osteoporosis, according to Brigham Health Hub. Fortunately, learning how to prevent osteoporosis can protect your health now and in the future.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
As the International Osteoporosis Foundation explains, the majority of bone-building happens during childhood, and bone mass generally peaks around age 30. Since age brings a tendency to lose bone mass, much of learning how to prevent osteoporosis involves taking steps to counteract that loss. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to be proactive, protect your bone health, and prevent osteoporosis.
Be Aware of Your Risk
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because it doesn’t have symptoms. Many people don’t discover that they have a problem until they break a bone. If you want to prevent osteoporosis, it helps to understand your risk, so that you know when to get screened. Your doctor can advise you about your specific needs, but Cleveland Clinic offers an overview:
- Age: Everyone’s risk rises with age.
- Gender: Women are at greater risk than men.
- Ethnicity: Caucasian and Asian women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, but their African-American peers are more likely to die after a hip fracture. Clearly, all women should take this health threat seriously.
- Physical build: Individuals who are slender and petite are at higher risk because they have less bone mass to lose.
- Family history: People with family members who had osteoporosis or suffered with conditions that indicate that they likely had osteoporosis are at increased risk.
- Certain medications and medical conditions: People who have or are currently undergoing treatment for certain conditions like various cancers, certain hormonal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bariatric surgery, or an organ transplant may be at higher risk. The same is true of people who take specific medications like hormones or steroids.
- Lifestyle: Living a sedentary lifestyle with limited physical activity increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Eat for Healthy Bones
Eating a healthy diet is important for your overall well-being. When it comes to bone health, there are two building blocks that are especially important: calcium and protein. These nutrients are crucial for bone health, and the body’s ability to absorb them sometimes falters with age. Have your doctor check your levels. If there’s any concern, consider supplementation.
There is no doubt that smoking is harmful. It is also a known risk factor for osteoporosis. Cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals that are bad for bone health.
Alcohol consumption is another risk factor for osteoporosis. Heavy drinking can also lead to impaired decision-making, poor coordination, and an increased risk of injury. Limiting your consumption of alcohol may decrease your chance of taking a tumble.
Being active offers multiple benefits for anyone worried about osteoporosis. For starters, weight-bearing activities can help your body build stronger bones. Then, there are balance exercises that can help you feel sturdier on your feet and reduce your risk of taking a fall. Other exercises can improve strength, posture, and coordination.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Often called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin from the sun, garnered from food sources, or found in supplements. It can boost your mood, your immune system, and your bone health, so try to make sure that you are giving your body enough to function well.
With a little knowledge and know-how, you can reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
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