According to recent statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one-third of women over the age of 50 years and one out of five men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime. Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 44 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk. What this means is that half of all adults age 50 years and older are at risk of breaking a bone and should be concerned about bone health. Osteoporosis is a silent epidemic that needs both physician and patient attention moving forward.
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which the bones gradually become weaker and weaker, causing changes in posture and making the individual extremely susceptible to bone fractures. The term osteoporosis, derived from Latin literally means “porous bones.” Because of the physiological, nutritional, and hormonal differences between males and females, osteoporosis affects many more women than men. However, men also suffer from bone loss, often as a side effect of certain medications like thyroid medications, steroid medications, including prednisone, and as a result of other illnesses. Half of all women between the ages of forty-five and seventy-five show signs of some degree of osteopenia ( low bone mass) or osteoporosis. Bone is live growing tissue when healthy and is continuously restoring itself. Cells called osteoblasts are responsible for making bone, and other cells, called osteoclasts, are needed to remove old bone as its minerals are absorbed for use elsewhere in the body. If the osteoclasts break down the bone more quickly than it is replaced, then bone tends to become less dense and is, therefore, likely to break more easily. Bone is at its strongest when a person is around age 30, and after that, it begins to decline. In women, this decline begins to accelerate at menopause. If you have not accumulated sufficient bone mass during those formative times in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, or if you lose it too quickly in later years, you are at increased risk of osteoporosis. A diagnosis of osteoporosis is made by measuring bone density. Standard practice is to use a non-invasive test using dual-energy X-ray absorption called a DEXA scan. Exposure to radiation from this test is less than other methods used to detect this condition.
THREE TYPES OF OSTEOPOROSIS
According to bone health experts, there are three basic types of osteoporosis. Type I is believed to be caused by hormonal changes, particularly a loss of estrogen, which causes the loss of minerals from the bones to accelerate. Type II is linked to dietary or nutritional deficiencies, especially a lack of sufficient calcium and vitamin D3, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Type III occurs in men and women at any age and is caused by drugs or medications used to treat other illnesses or other diseases unconnected with osteoporosis.
GENERAL ATTITUDES AND BODY TYPES RELATED TO OSTEOPOROSIS
Many women mistakenly believe that osteoporosis is something they need to be concerned about only after menopause. However, recent evidence indicates that osteoporosis often begins early in life, and is not strictly a postmenopausal problem. Although we know that bone loss accelerates after menopause as a result of the drop in estrogen levels, it begins much earlier. Several factors are known to influence an individual’s risk of developing osteoporosis. The first, and probably the most important, is the peak bone mass achieved in adulthood: the larger and denser the bones are to begin with, the less debilitating bone loss is likely to be. Small, fine-boned women, therefore, have more reason for concern than women with larger frames and denser bones.
DO FALLS INCREASE THE RISK FOR FRACTURES?
Bone disintegration with pain in the hips, lower back, or legs and vertebral fractures (usually affecting people over 50 years old) is common. The vast majority of all fractures in older women result from falls. Fall risk factors include leg weakness, impaired gait, and balance dysfunction. Other related and important factors, especially in older adults, include fear of falling, decreased knee extension strength, and poor distance visual acuity.
LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
The challenge for all of us to make sure we continue to maintain healthy bone function is a foundation of several integrated components working together in tandem to improve the strength, the quality, and density of your bones at any age. The following suggestions should be given strong consideration:
- Diet – eat plenty of foods that are high in and rich in calcium and vitamin D. Good sources include broccoli, chestnuts, clams, most dark green leafy vegetables, flounder, hazelnuts, kale, kelp, oats, oysters, salmon, sardines, shrimp and turnip greens. Include garlic and onions in your diet, as well as eggs. If you are a menopausal or postmenopausal woman with osteoporosis, include soy products since they are rich in phytoestrogens (plant estrogen).
- Exercise – keep moving. The old saying, “move it, or lose it” applies here. A lack of exercise can result in loss of calcium, but this can be reversed with sensible exercises. Walking probably is the best for maintaining bone mass. Other good exercises are tai chi, pilates, biking, and swimming. When swimming, do water aerobics and isometric stretches using the side of the pool.
- Nutritional Supplementation– This is a vital piece that many people overlook, unfortunately. Considering that 90 percent of adults are nutritionally deficient and have significant “nutrient gaps,” taking vitamins, minerals, and other bone-building supplements is critical. Here are a few of the top recommendations:
- JOINT HEALTH SUPPORT – This supplement combines key ingredients including glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, Boswellia, bromelain, ginger, and more to help support healthy joint function.
- HYALURONIC ACID– this nutrient helps to lubricate the bones and joint spaces for improved mobility.
- BONE HEALTH SUPPORT– this product includes proper amounts and ratios of calcium, vitamin D3, vitamin K, ipriflavone, which is shown to build bone, manganese, boron, and other bone-building ingredients.
- COLLAGEN FACTORS– this product contains essential components that work together to increase collagen levels for improved elasticity of bone and joints. Collagen levels drop with age and should be supplemented.
- OsteoStrong – this is the next-generation technology for developing bone density, bone strength, posture, joint health, balance, and energy. This new system utilizes osteogenic loading to optimize your skeletal foundation. It is non- invasive, non-drug, and takes literally a 15-20 minute session per week to help build bone density.
I encourage you to discuss your bone health with your doctor, and even better to have a DEXA bone scan to determine your level of bone health and subsequent risk of fractures. Don’t wait until it is too late, because a fall or fracture of the hip, lower spine or elsewhere can dramatically change the quality of your life. Be proactive, and remember you are in control of your own bone health journey.