While osteoporosis can affect anyone, the condition favors women who have reached menopause. Your bones become weaker and brittle, often leading to fractures caused by surprisingly little force.
You can, however, take steps now to prevent the advance of osteoporosis later. Discuss your concerns with your doctor at Alpha Internal Medicine. Dr. Betsy Horton and her team specialize in women’s health, and they can guide you through the best plan to keep your bones healthy and strong.
The anatomy of bones
Your bones strike a balance between weight and strength with a porous cross-section. Their inner structure has a foam-like appearance, as though filled with many tiny bubbles. While you might think of bones as a permanent part of your body, new tissue is always regenerating while old tissue is lost.
As people age, it’s common for the pace of regeneration to slow, or the rate of loss increases. Over time, this shows up as larger bubbles within the bones. They’re still about the same size, but there’s not as much hard bone tissue as when you were younger. This loss of bone mass is called osteoporosis, and it leads to brittle bones that may break or collapse more easily.
Osteoporosis risk factors
There are factors that increase your osteoporosis about which you can do nothing, things like your gender, age, or family history. People with small bodies have less bone mass to start with, so they may be disproportionately affected. Osteoporosis also tends to run in families, so your genetics play a part.
Other factors may be treatable. Hormone imbalances, for example, can be countered with estrogen therapy for women and testosterone supplements for men. Thyroid issues may cause other hormone imbalances that also affect bone loss, as can disorders of the parathyroid and adrenal glands.
When your diet is low in calcium, or if you have other factors that affect the way nutrients get absorbed into your body, you may miss out on key building blocks for bone regeneration, speeding the rate of osteoporosis.
Lowering your risk
When you have unavoidable osteoporosis risk factors, it’s never too soon to start preventive measures. Bone mass you accumulate when you’re younger could help you ride through loss of bone tissue later in life. Here are some key points to consider to reduce your risk or to slow the rate of bone loss due to osteoporosis.
For women under 50, 1,000 milligrams of calcium through dietary sources is the daily recommendation. Over 50, that level increases to 1,500 mg. This usually isn’t hard to achieve with a healthy and balanced diet. Talk to your Alpha Internal Medicine caregiver before you add calcium supplements, because high levels of calcium have their own risks.
A big role of vitamin D is to help your body absorb calcium. Sun exposure triggers the natural vitamin D process, but sun, too, has other risk factors. Fortified foods, most commonly milk, add extra vitamin D, which can also be taken as a supplement.
Protein exists everywhere in your body, and while best known for maintaining muscle mass, it can also improve bone mineral density.
Once again, what’s good for your muscles is good for your bones. Weight-bearing and resistance exercises stimulate new bone tissue growth.
As well as tweaking your diet to boost calcium and vitamin D, a menu full of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat meats and dairy, and controlled amounts of healthy fat will support your bone health.
Keep active, too, to help lose or maintain a healthy body weight, drink alcohol in moderation, and stop smoking. Contact the team at Alpha Internal Medicine if you need help monitoring your osteoporosis progression. You can call the office directly, or feel free to use the appointment request tool located on this page. Book your consultation today.