Millions of Americans suffer from osteoporosis, which is a dramatic decrease in bone density. In fact, after the age of 50, one in three women and one in five men will end up with an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime.
So, the pressing question is: Can you prevent osteoporosis, or is it an inevitable part of aging?
The short answer is yes, for some people. Here to elaborate, our team of board-certified specialists at Ally Endocrinology in Troy, Michigan , explains the risks for osteoporosis and the steps you can take to maximize your bone health.
Know your risk for osteoporosis
Osteoporosis literally means “holes in your bones,” so it’s easy to imagine that the disease puts you at risk for fractures. The goal in preventing osteoporosis is to maintain healthy bone density throughout your life, starting in childhood.
Although osteoporosis can affect anyone at any age (even children), you’re at a higher risk if:
- You’re a woman over 65
- You’re a man over 70
- You’re a woman who has reached menopause
- Osteoporosis runs in your family
- You suffer from lupus, cancer, celiac disease, or other conditions related to low bone density
If any of these describe you, it’s important to get your bone density tested. Our team uses a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan to determine the mineral content in your bones. If you’re at risk, you may benefit from a Reclast®️ infusion to prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones strong.
There are also several lifestyle changes you can make to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Get more calcium and vitamin D
Your bones need calcium for their structure and strength, but your body doesn’t make its own calcium. To make matters worse, you lose calcium every day through your sweat, urine, hair, and nails. That means you need to eat foods high in calcium to replenish your supply.
How much you need depends on your gender and age. Although your individual needs may vary, we generally recommend the following daily calcium intake:
- 1,000 mg for women through age 50 and men through age 70
- 1,200 mg for women 51 and older, and men 71 and older
The best way to get calcium is by eating dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt. Some green vegetables have a small amount of calcium, and some cereals, breads, and juices are fortified with calcium. You can also take calcium supplements if you don’t get enough in your diet.
But there’s a catch: Your body needs vitamin D (which is actually a hormone) in order to absorb calcium, so if you’re low on this essential nutrient, the calcium you think you’re getting may get flushed away.
Men and women should shoot for 400-800 IU of vitamin D per day, increasing their intake to 800-1,000 IU daily after age 50. In addition to foods (especially salmon and tuna) and supplements, good old fashioned sunlight is a great source of vitamin D.
When you lift weights, your bones thrive. But you don’t need to become a bodybuilder! You just need a few weight-bearing exercises, which may include:
- Climbing stairs
- Jumping rope
- Sports like tennis or racquetball
If you’re not up to higher-impact activities, you can still benefit from aerobics, walking on a treadmill, or using an elliptical machine. Light weightlifting and using resistance bands also do wonders.
Ditch bad habits
Smoking interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium, reduces blood supply to your bones, and slows down the regeneration of blood cells. Heavy drinking (more than 2-3 drinks a day) is linked to bone loss, especially in people who abused alcohol in their adolescence.
Smoking and drinking alcohol both increase your risk for osteoporosis, so quitting puts you in a much better position to avoid the condition.
Treating and stopping bone loss
If you have osteoporosis, several treatments can slow the progression of bone loss and even help rebuild bone density. At Ally Endocrinology , we start with the most conservative treatments first, because often a change in your diet and exercise routine is all it takes to strengthen your bones.
We also offer several medications that address the issues that may be contributing to your osteoporosis, including hormone imbalance and thyroid problems. These medications along with calcium and vitamin D supplements can make a significant difference in your bone health.
When you need more advanced support, we offer Prolia®️ injections to increase bone mass and reduce your risk of fracture.
Osteoporosis may not be curable, but the right treatment can help prevent further damage. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with our osteoporosis specialists, contact us at any of our three Troy, Michigan , locations or request an appointment online.