Bone is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body. Calcium and other minerals are constantly being laid down — and later, borrowed — for the body’s essential functions. Constructing a strong and healthy skeleton requires consistently providing the body with the right materials in the proper proportions. Healthy eating habits that begin early in life, and regular exercise routines that are maintained throughout childhood into the adult years are the most important ingredients that go into healthy bones.
The key in building healthy bones and preserving bone density is to start early, because, I’m sorry to say, when we get older, our bodies change. Osteoporosis is a common problem in adults, especially post-menopausal women, who develop low levels of the female hormone, estrogen, which helps maintain bone mass. With osteoporosis, bones become thin and weakened, and fractures become more likely, especially after trauma accompanying a fall in older persons.
An optimal diet for preventing or treating osteoporosis includes consuming an adequate number of protein and calories as well as optimal amounts of calcium and vitamin D, which are essential in helping to maintain proper bone formation and density.
Staying active, especially doing some weight-bearing activities, is important to prevent the development of osteoporosis:
Exercise may decrease fracture risk by improving bone mass in premenopausal women and helping to maintain bone density for women after menopause. Furthermore, exercise may decrease the tendency to fall due to weakness. Physical activity reduces the risk of hip fracture in older women as a result of increased muscle strength. Most experts recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes three times per week.
The benefits of exercise are quickly lost when a person stops exercising. A regular, weightbearing exercise regimen that a person enjoys improves the chances that the person will continue it over the long term.
Careful with the alcohol:
Drinking alcohol excessively (more than two drinks a day) can increase the risk of fracture due to an increased risk of falling, poor nutrition, etc, so it should be avoided.
Smoking is linked to lower bone mass by speeding up bone loss, increasing the risk of fractures.
Dr. Rosen reminds us that certain prescribed medications taken on a chronic basis can adversely affect bone density:
Some medications can cause bone thinning. Such medications include glucocorticoid medications (eg, prednisone), heparin, and certain antiepileptic drugs (eg, phenytoin, carbamazepine, primidone, and phenobarbital). Patients should ask their health care provider about the possibility that these medications should be replaced or the dose lowered.
Go “Beyond the Basics” and read more about the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis here.