How to Prevent Osteoporosis: Bone Fractures Risk Factors
To better understand how to prevent osteoporosis, first you have to learn the basics. By reading about what osteoporosis is, what it does to your bones and the things you can do to lower your risks, you’ll be able to properly prevent it from taking over your life.
What is osteoporosis?
The term osteoporosis means “porous bones” and it’s a disease that weakens bones’ strength. In result, the bones become more prone to breakage. As the most common culprit for broken bones in elders, osteoporosis doesn’t have any symptoms. The primary consequence of osteoporosis is bone fragility which leads to fractures in the spine, hips, ribs and wrists. From these, the most dangerous ones are hip fractures which sentence elder people to immobility, which in turn can cause blood clots and even pneumonia. It’s not difficult to diagnose patients with osteoporosis by using traditional radiography and looking at the bone mineral density. These are the fastest ways to determine if someone has the condition, but additional blood tests might be required in order to rule out bone cancer.
Osteoporosis risk factors can be divided in two main categories. Non-modifiable factors and modifiable factors.
Non-modifiable factors include:
- Advanced age – mineral density reduction is correlated with menopause and lowered testosterone levels;
- Race – Asians and Europeans are more likely to develop osteoporosis;
- Heredity – individuals with an osteoporosis family history have higher risks of developing the disease;
- Small stature – a small build has been associated with osteoporosis.
There are other risk factors that could be modified during an individual’s lifetime:
- Alcohol – excessive consumption will increase fractures risk;
- Vitamin D – deficiency of vitamin D is one of the most common causes of developing osteoporosis among elders;
- Malnutrition – calcium and magnesium deficiency as well as insufficient vitamins E, C, K and A increase the changes to develop osteoporosis;
- Smoking – it is believed that smoking damages bones and lowers body weight, which may contribute to the possibility of smokers developing osteoporosis;
- Sedentariness – inactivity often causes bone loss, which in turn enables osteoporosis to settle in.
There are small steps we can take to ensure our bones stay healthy our entire lives:
- Calcium intake. An adequate amount of calcium will lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. Women over 50 years old and men over 70 should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium on a daily basis. The best sources are salmon, tofu, low fat dairy and orange juice. Consider including calcium supplements in your diet if you fail to achieve the ideal intake only from food.
- Vitamin D. It’s essential to have enough vitamin D in your body because it enables calcium absorption. We get vitamin D from sunlight exposure but that might not be enough for some people who use sunscreen or work indoors. You can adjust vitamin D levels through supplements at your doctor’s recommendation.
- Resistance training. Exercising will help you decrease bone loss and increase the strength of your bones. Regular strength training will also make your muscles stronger, while swimming and cycling are great cardio workouts.
While we still don’t know how to prevent osteoporosis completely, we found that some lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on our health. The combination of a balanced nutrition and regular exercises help decrease the risks and strengthen bones and muscles.
For more information about bone health, check out All You Need to Know about Bone Health.