Decrease your risk of bone loss

How strong are your bones?

In the United States, more than 40 mil­lion people either already have os­teo­poros­is or are at high risk due to low bone mass. Os­teo­poros­is means “por­ous bone.” As your bones be­come less dense, they also be­come weak­er and more likely to break. If you’re age 50 or older and have broken a bone, talk to your doc­tor or oth­er health-care pro­vider and ask if you should have a bone dens­ity test.

Are you at risk for os­teo­poros­is?

Risk factors you can­not change in­clude:

• Gender. Wo­men get os­teo­poros­is more of­ten than men.

• Age. The older you are, the great­er your risk of os­teo­poros­is.

• Body size. Small, thin wo­men are at great­er risk.

• Eth­ni­city. White and Asi­an wo­men are at highest risk. Black and His­pan­ic wo­men have a lower risk.

• Fam­ily his­tory. Os­teo­poros­is tends to run in fam­il­ies. If a fam­ily mem­ber has os­teo­poros­is or breaks a bone, there is a great­er chance that you will, too.

Oth­er risk factors in­clude:

• Cal­ci­um and vit­am­in D in­take. A diet low in cal­ci­um and vit­am­in D makes you more prone to bone loss.

• Med­ic­a­tion use. Some medi­cines in­crease the risk of os­teo­poros­is.

• Activ­ity level. Lack of ex­er­cise or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.

• Smoking. Ci­gar­ettes are bad for bones, heart and lungs.

• Drink­ing al­co­hol. Too much al­co­hol can cause bone loss and broken bones.

How can you pre­vent os­teo­poros­is?

There are many steps you can take to help keep your bones healthy. To help keep your bones strong and slow down bone loss, you can:

• Eat a diet rich in cal­ci­um and vit­am­in D by con­sum­ing low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and foods for­ti­fied with ad­ded cal­ci­um like bread, cer­eal and or­ange juice.

• Get more Vit­am­in D. Get 10 minutes of sun each day, try for­ti­fied foods, or think about tak­ing a vit­am­in D pill.

• Ex­er­cise.

• Don’t drink in ex­cess.

• Don’t smoke. ••

Jac­queline Wo­j­ciechow­ski is a re­gistered and cor­por­ate di­eti­tian, Wes­ley En­hanced Liv­ing Pennypack Park. 

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