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Am I losing bone mass?

Losing bone mass weakens your bones, which could make you more susceptible to osteoporosis-related bone fractures. Are you concerned you might be losing bone mass? Here’s what you need to know.

Bone Loss checked on a piece of papper

Unfortunately as we age, we all lose some bone mass, and according to Osteoporosis Canada, a person can progressively lose bone mass without any signs or symptoms, until a bone fracture occurs. While that’s an unsettling thought, learning about the risk factors and taking measures to prevent bone mass loss are important to a lifetime of good bone health.

Bone history

Bone is living tissue that continually changes throughout a person’s life. Right from the start, children and teens need to develop bone-healthy habits, such as exercising and eating a well-balanced diet, to grow and develop properly, and this includes getting an adequate amount of calcium for their future bone health.

Find out how much calcium you need at every age >>

Peak bone mass

Bone mass refers to the amount of bone you have, and according to WebMD, women will have up to 90 per cent of their bone mass by around the age of 18, and the bones can keep growing until around the age of 30. This is when a woman reaches her peak bone mass. Achieving peak bone mass is crucial to reducing the chance of osteopenia (low bone mass) and to prevent developing osteoporosis.

Menopause and bone loss

From about the age of 30 (after reaching peak bone mass) until menopause, most women don’t experience a significant change in bone mass, but that changes at menopause. During menopause, bone mass begins to rapidly decrease.

Learn how to ease menopause symptoms >> 

Risk factors for bone loss

Risk factors for bone loss include the following:

  • Age — you lose more bone mass as you age, specifically if you are a postmenopausal woman.
  • Gender — women are more at risk.
  • Race — Asians and Caucasians have a greater risk of bone loss.
  • Genetics — a family history of osteoporosis or fractures.
  • Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroid drugs.
  • Body type — having a small or petite frame.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Poor nutrition, specifically low calcium and vitamin D.
  • Alcohol and tobacco use.

Healthy habits to maintain bone health

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is an essential for bone health, and a deficiency can affect your bone mass. If necessary, take a calcium supplement to ensure you are getting an adequate amount.
  • Get your body moving. Weight-bearing exercises, such as climbing stairs, walking, dancing and jogging, will help prevent bone loss.
  • Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol. Both can be damaging to bones.
If you are concerned about bone mass loss, see your health care provider, who can provide you with a complete diagnosis, including a bone density test and more information on available treatment options.

More on bone health

What affects bone health?
Vitamin D and bone health: What you need to know
Are you at risk for osteoporosis?

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