If you are 50 or older, chances are high that you will have an osteoporosis-related bone fracture at some point in your lifetime. In fact, your chances are one in two for women and one in four for men. Although there are ways to treat it, once you have the condition, there is no cure. But according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is largely preventable for most.
The best defense against it is to adopt lifestyle changes before the age of 30 that promote strong bones later in life. Even if you are over 30 you can still take measures to prevent the worst consequences of osteoporosis. The National Osteroporis Foundation suggests these 5 combined steps:
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is needed for the heart, muscles, and nerves to properly function, for blood to clot, and is needed to grow and maintain healthy bones. The NOF recommends getting the daily recommended amount of calcium which is between 1000 and 1300 mg/day and vitamin D between 400 and 800 IU/day. The best source of calcium is foods such a milk, cheese, and dark green leafy vegetables. If you can’t get all of the calcium you need through your diet, take a daily calcium supplement. Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb the calcium. You can get Vitamin D in two ways: your skin manufactures it when exposed to direct sunlight, and it’s found in egg yolks, liver and fortified dairy products. You can also take a vitamin D supplement.
Building strong bones, earlier in life (before 30), can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis. Exercise is vital to good bone health. Exercise that places weight or resistance on your bones is recommended. Activates such as walking, jogging, stair-climbing, racquetball, tennis, and hiking are recognized as some of the best types of exercise to promote good bone health.
Get a Bone Density Test
A Bone Mineral Density test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. The BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and its value determines the need for medications to help maintain bone mass, prevent further bone loss, and reduce fracture risk.
Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Smoking and alcohol are both high risk factors for osteoporosis. Smoking reduces the calcium absorption and has been associated with lower bone density. Also, those who drink large amounts of alcohol (over 50 units per week in men or 35 units in women) have a higher rate of osteoporosis. Therefore, smoking should be avoided and alcohol intake should be avoided or limited.
Speak to a Health Care Professional About Bone Health
Since osteoporosis is preventable, speak to your doctor about what you should be doing. Get prevention tips and information about diagnosis and treatment options. It’s sometimes called a “silent disease” since people are unlikely to know they have it unless a fracture occurs or they get bad results on a bone density test.
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