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What affects bone health?

Your bones are living, growing tissue and are continually changing throughout your life. Even though you can’t control all the factors that will keep your bones healthy, it’s important to know what affects your bone health.

Woman holding a spine

Your age

It’s common knowledge that your body changes as you age, and one of the things affected is bone health. As you get older, your bones will progressively become thinner and weaker.

Isolated genetics

Gender and genetics

Whether you’re male or female, gender plays a role in bone health. For men, a testosterone deficiency could lead to a reduction in bone mass, while women generally have less bone tissue than men, which makes them more susceptible to bone-related problems. Women will also go through menopause, which reduces estrogen levels and can significantly increase bone loss and the risk of developing osteoporosis. Your genetic makeup also affects your bone health. If you’re of Caucasian or Asian descent, have a small body frame or have a family history of bone fractures or osteoporosis, you’ll have an increased risk of bone mass loss and developing osteoporosis.

Learn about menopause and bone health >> 

Your diet

The nutrients absorbed from what you eat are important to your overall well-being, including your bone health. Calcium is vital for healthy bones, and an inadequate amount could increase the risk of fractures and bone loss as well as reduce bone density. Vitamin D is also imperative to a bone-healthy diet, as it helps your body absorb the much-needed calcium.


Certain medications can damage your bones or increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. The list is extensive and includes corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone and cortisone; methotrexate, a cancer treatment medication; some anti-seizure drugs; and aluminum-containing antacids. Consult with your health care provider for a complete list and details on medications that can affect your bone health.

Find out how much calcium you need >> 

Unhealthy habits

Smoking has been widely reputed as a contributing factor to diminished bone mass, as has regular intake of alcohol, which also has a negative impact on bone health. Alcohol can affect the absorption of bone-building calcium and its partner, vitamin D, so it should be limited to a maximum of one or two drinks per day.

Activity level

Leading an inactive lifestyle can adversely affect your bone health. We all know there are many benefits to regular exercise, and this includes building and maintaining bone density. Your bones will be stronger and healthier when you incorporate weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises into your workout routine.

Other factors

  • An overactive thyroid or too much thyroid medication can cause bone loss.
  • People with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing bone mass loss.
  • Weight-loss and other stomach surgeries might affect calcium absorption, resulting in poor bone health.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s, Cushing’s and celiac disease, affect the ability to absorb calcium properly.

Tell us

What do you think is the most important factor for long-term bone health? Tell us in the comments below.

More on bone health

Preventing osteoporosis: What you can do
The benefits of drinking milk
4 Reasons to take vitamin D supplements

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