Osteoporosis, often referred to as the "silent disease," is a condition that quietly weakens and makes bones brittle. It is a pressing concern, as approximately 10 million individuals in the United States alone suffer from osteoporosis, with women constituting 80% of those affected. Furthermore, over 30 million individuals have low bone density, putting them at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Shockingly, each year, more than 1.5 million people endure fractures, mainly in the hip and spine, due to this condition.
Contrary to popular belief, osteoporosis is not limited to the elderly. Medical professionals have observed a rise in osteoporosis signs among women as young as 20 years old. This alarming trend is attributed to poor dietary habits developed during childhood. The prevalence of soda consumption instead of milk, combined with inadequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients during crucial bone-building years, contributes to this concerning phenomenon.
Fortunately, there are steps one can take to combat and prevent osteoporosis. Although women are more susceptible to this condition due to the drop in estrogen levels during menopause, men are not exempt from its reach. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while ensuring adequate levels of calcium and magnesium intake, can help safeguard against osteoporosis and promote strong and healthy bones.
NOT Just an Elderly Disease
Many people think of osteoporosis as a debilitating disease that only elderly women get. This is NOT true! Doctors report that they're seeing an increase in signs of osteoporosis in women as young as 20 years of age. They believe the spike in younger women, is because of poor dietary habits that develop during childhood. More kids are now drinking soda pop, instead of milk, and are not getting the calcium and vitamin-D, as well as other nutrients needed during their prime bone-building years.
Steps You Can Take to Combat Osteoporosis
Women are more apt to develop osteoporosis than men, because the drop in estrogen levels during menopause exacerbates bone loss. After menopause women lose about 1-2% of their bone density each year.
Also, if you're lacking certain bone building vitamins and minerals, this can also play a significant role in the onset of osteoporosis. By adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and making sure you get adequate levels of calcium and magnesium, you can keep osteoporosis at bay, while keeping your bones strong and healthy.
Consuming a diet rich in calcium is crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. Engaging in physical activity also plays a significant role in prevention. Regular exercise not only protects bones but also strengthens them. Low-impact aerobic activities such as brisk walking, stair climbing, hiking, swimming, dancing, tennis, and cycling, along with strength training using light weights, have been proven to increase bone density and fortify bones.
It is essential to be aware of the risk factors associated with osteoporosis. If you fall into any of the following categories, you may be at a greater risk:
- Female, aged 20-100
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption
- History of hysterectomy or chemotherapy
- Thin and petite physique
- History of eating disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia
- Caucasian or Asian descent (Black and Hispanic women have a lower risk)
- Heavy metal poisoning (mercury toxicity)
Bone Building Vitamins For Premenopausal Women
In terms of vitamins and minerals crucial for bone health, premenopausal women should aim to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, preferably through a balanced diet or in supplement form, along with 400-800 IU of vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. Postmenopausal women require even higher amounts—between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium and 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Additionally, it is important to include 300-500 milligrams of chelated magnesium in your daily regimen. Opting for supplements that combine calcium and magnesium is highly recommended.
If you suspect you may be at risk for developing osteoporosis, it is advisable to schedule a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test with your doctor. Shedding just 10-20 pounds of excess weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis if you are overweight.
Prioritizing bone health should be a lifelong commitment. By adopting healthy dietary habits, engaging in regular physical activity, and considering appropriate supplementation, you can bolster your defenses against osteoporosis. Remember, prevention is key, and investing in the health of your bones today will ensure a vibrant and resilient future.
If you think you may be at risk for developing osteoporosis, schedule a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test with your doctor. If you are overweight, by losing just 10-20 lbs. you can substantially reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
1. The role of healthy diet in the prevention of osteoporosis in perimenopausal period
2. Food and Your Bones — Osteoporosis Nutrition Guidelines
3. What You Can Do Now to Prevent Osteoporosis