According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis threatens approximately 55 percent of men and women age 50 and older. National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, which puts them at high risk for developing it. Both men and women can be affected by osteoporosis.

While treatment is available, diagnosis often isn’t made until after a fracture occurs. That means prevention is the key. Calcium and vitamin D, as part of a healthy diet, can reduce your risks. So can weight bearing exercise—walking, dancing, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing and racquet sports.

Got calcium?

According to its report, Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy, the NIH has determined that the best way to get absorbable calcium is from the foods you eat. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, greens, broccoli, sardines, canned salmon with bones, dried beans and peas and tofu.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. The only foods containing Vitamin D are egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Your body produces its own vitamin D when you spend time in the sunshine-so get outdoors!
A calcium and Vitamin D rich diet is especially important for children, teenagers and those in their twenties. These are the years when bone mass is built.
The next best way to get calcium is by taking a supplement. Most supplements contain either calcium citrate or calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate supplements usually are the better choice. However, if you have decreased stomach acid, then calcium citrate is more readily absorbed. Calcium citrate malate, used to fortify juices, also absorbs well.
Of course, eating a diet that is healthy overall is just as important. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins combined in made-from-scratch recipes are the stuff good health is made of.
At menopause age, women can help their bones by including plant estrogens in their diets, for example, organic soy products and tofu, linseeds, chick peas, lentils and mung beans.
Packaged, processed, additive-laden and fast foods deliver less nutrition, higher cost and higher risk for many health-related issues. Carbonated beverages actually leech calcium from the body. Smoking also contributes to osteoporosis. Glucocorticoids (steroids), which are often prescribed to children with asthma, may also increase risks for osteoporosis later in life.
For several years, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was thought to be a good prescription for preventing osteoporosis. However, since then, the Women’s Health Initiative found that HRT increased risks for ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Biophosphate drugs prescribed for osteoporosis can also have serious side effects including digestive difficulties, gastric ulcers, muscle and joint pain and osteonecrosis (death) of the jawbone.

Give your bones a lift.

Studies strongly suggest that physical activity in childhood contributes to higher peak bone mass, with resistance and high impact exercise being the most beneficial. Weight training especially helps bones acquire and hang on to the minerals that keep them strong. If you belong to a gym, learn how to use the weight machines and free-weights. If you don’t, any number of weight training videos can help you get started. Pairs of three-, five-, and eight-pound weights will be all that you’ll need to get started.

Osteoporosis is serious business. It causes debilitating fractures and chronic pain. Typically, women in their 70s and 80s have the most osteoporosis-related hip fractures; women with osteoporosis have a high risk for wrist fractures beginning in their late 50s. Fractures of the vertebrae (back) are also common in people with osteoporosis.

The NIH found that nearly one-third of patients with hip fractures are discharged to nursing homes within a year of the injury. One in five die within one year of an osteoporotic hip fracture.

Even if you are decades away from those statistics, now is the time for prevention. The older you get, the less your body builds bones. Building strong bones today means stronger bones later in life.

Sources:
http://consensus.nih.gov/2000/2000Osteoporosis111html.htm
http://www.healthywomen.org/
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007111.htm
http://whi.org

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