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.
• Don’t drink in excess.
• Don’t smoke. ••
Jacqueline Wojciechowski is a registered and corporate dietitian, Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack Park.