“Drink your milk.” Chances are your mother said it to you at least once a day. For women it was especially sound advice. By the age of 25, the average woman has established 98% of her skeletal mass.
What is osteoporosis? In the most simple of terms it is the thinning of bones. No one actually feels their bones getting thinner. A bone density test and monitoring the situation are really the only clues you have. Your bones may break easier, but again there would be no forewarning
Many things factor into your risk of osteoporosis that you can not control. For example, gender, race, family history and age are all things you have no control over. Those things we can not worry about. Let’s look at some things we can control.
Smoking, especially for many years, increases your risk factor.
A correct diet is essential. Nutrients play an important role in the building of strong bones. Bones are a complex and living tissue that are made up of calcium and protein. There are foods that are calcium-rich. You want to include these in your diet. Some of these could be low fat dairy products, like skim milk, low fat cottage cheese and low fat yogurts. Leafy green vegetables, broccoli, spinach greens, beet greens, and kale are excellent sources of calcium. Cereals, breads, and some juices are now enhanced with calcium.
Excessive alcohol consumption especially in teens and young adults compromises the strength of growing bones and increases the likelihood of osteoporosis.
While medications may be necessary it is important to know that many can increase your risk of osteoporosis so you can compensate in other areas. Medications out of the glucoricoid family put you at greater risk. Specifically the following can cause bone density to drop.
2-exessive thyroid hormones
3-methotrexate (used of cancer treatment)
4-heprin and cholestyramine (used to control cholesterol)
5-cyclosporine A (an immune suppressant)
6-gonadotropin GnRH (used to treat endometriosis)
7-antacids containing aluminum
Post-menopausal women need at least 1200 mg of calcium each day. If you aren’t getting this in your diet, consider supplements. The body can only absorb 600 mg at a time, so it would require two supplements at different times of the day. Vitamin D is need for the body to process and absorb the calcium so a supplement that includes the Vitamin D would be best.
When speaking about health issues exercise is always a part of the equation. The kind of exercise needed to keep healthy and strong bones is weight training. Most experts suggest three times a week for at least thirty minutes. You don’t need an expensive gym membership; you can do this at home. Many free web sites have great videos and ideas for simple weight training exercises.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis there are treatments. Lifestyle changes and medications are usually the ticket. Some of the more common medications are Calcitonin, Bisphosponates, estrogen replacement, anabolic therapy, and selective estrogen receptor modulators.
As always, heed your mother’s advice and drink your milk.