Preventing Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones become porous and fragile. People with osteoporosis are at an increased risk for bone fractures. It’s important to increase bone density and try to prevent osteoporosis because the disease is irreversible.

After you reach peak bone mass your bones start to lose more bone tissue than they can replace. This means you must focus on building bone mass and strengthening your bones as much as possible before you reach this point. After peak bone mass your efforts shift to maintaining bone density and slowing bone loss.

The effects of osteoporosis are irreversible. You can do things to help prevent osteoporosis, however. Click To Tweet

Different factors affect how much bone mass you lose, gain, and maintain: physical activity levels, nutrient intake, and various lifestyle behaviors such as smoking. Here are some things that you can do to help prevent osteoporosis.

Start building bone mass early

Your bones lose mass, or bone density, as you get older. When you’re young your bones gain more mass than they lose. This is true until around 20 to 30 years of age. It’s around this time that your bones reach peak bone mass, which the point at which your bones are the strongest and contain the most bone tissue.

Strengthen your bones as much as you can, while you can.

Get the right nutrients

Vitamin D and calcium are essential for strong bones. Nearly 100% of calcium in the body can be found in the bones and teeth, and vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Choose foods high in these nutrients. 

Dairy is a great source of calcium. Cruciferous vegetables such as collard greens, rapini (broccoli rabe), and kale are high in calcium, too. Many foods are fortified or enriched with Calcium and vitamin D.

If you’re concerned about getting these nutrients through your diet, ask your doctor if supplements are right for you.

Exercise every day

Daily physical activity is important for your overall health, and it helps strengthen your bones, too. Choose activities that use your body weight such as team sports, walking, jogging, dancing, climbing, and calisthenics.

If possible, try to work physical activity into your routine throughout the day. Think about it this way — even if you exercise for 30 minutes everyday, that’s still 23 and a half hours out of 24 hours of sedentary living.

Stay at a healthy weight

Eating right and exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being underweight, overweight, or obese all negatively affect bone health. Those who are underweight and those of a naturally smaller build are more likely to have osteoporosis when they get older than those at a healthy weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight promotes good bone health and strong bones.

Avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices

Smoking and sedentary living are both associated with lower bone density. Studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and bone density. It’s unclear how alcohol affects bone health, but some research indicates that high alcohol consumption correlates with lower bone density.

Ask your doctor about bone density tests

You can’t always prevent osteoporosis. Many factors that contribute to low bone density — sex, ethnicity, and hormonal factors — are beyond a person’s control. While you can do a number of things to strengthen your bones, you should talk to your doctor to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent osteoporosis.

In many cases, osteoporosis isn’t diagnosed until after a patient breaks a bone. Brittle, porous bones don’t case any noticeable symptoms; you can’t feel low bone density. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you fracture a bone to learn if you have low bone density.

A bone density test measures how solid your bones are. This is reflected in a T-score that compares your bone density to the bone density of an average healthy 30 year old. Talk to your primary care physician to see if a bone density test is right for you.