Osteoporosis is a disease in which there is a reduction of bone mass and strength. This can potentially lead to an increased risk of fractures and a weakened skeletal system. While there isn't a cure, it's never too early to start preventing osteoporosis or taking measures to slow the progression down.
Who's at risk
Although there is a tendency to consider this an older woman's condition, osteoporosis can afflict men or women, old or young, and there are several risk factors to take into account. Here are some of them:
- Gender. Women are at a higher risk than men.
- Post-menopausal women. At menopause, a woman's body starts to produce less estrogen, a hormone that helps maintain bone density .This can be a time of increased bone loss.
- Family history. Those with a family history of the disease are at higher risk of developing it.
- Race. Women of Caucasian and Asian descent are more likely to be affected by this disease.
- A smaller or thin frame. A person with this body type will generally have less bone mass, which may increase the risk.
- Certain other diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis or digestive problems can add to the risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking. Smokers stand a higher chance of developing osteoporosis.
What you can do
Whether or not you fall into a higher-risk category, there are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent this harmful condition and keep your bones strong and healthy.
- Make a commitment to exercise. This is one of the most important keys to preventing this disease, but not all exercises are created equal. To strengthen and build bone mass, a person should perform weight-bearing exercises several times a week. These include running, jogging, dancing, walking, aerobics and resistance exercises such as free weights or exercise machines. Any exercise will increase muscle strength, which in turn will help prevent fractures in the event of a trauma, so be sure to include swimming, cycling , yoga and any other activity you enjoy to keep yourself fit.
- Get the recommended dose of calcium and vitamin D. Proper nutrition is important to your overall health, but dietary calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to build strong bones. Keep up your calcium intake by enjoying dairy products, broccoli and almonds and by taking a supplement if necessary. The purest source of vitamin D comes from the sun, so take a few moments to soak up the rays. Fortified foods, salmon, tuna and cod liver oil are also good sources of vitamin D.
- Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Both can have a negative effect on your overall health as well as increase your risk of bone loss.
- Discuss your options with a health care provider. Advancements in the fight against osteoporosis are always being made, and your physician will be able to provide you with the latest treatment options available, which may include hormone replacement therapy or drug treatments.
More on women's health
Lifestyle changes that affect bladder leakage
Ideas for a mental health break
Blood pressure and your health