With one in two women and one in four men age 50 and older at risk for osteoporosis-related fractures, chances are it could be you. For most people, osteoporosis
is considered a preventable disease. Though there are treatments available, there is no cure. Osteoporosis prevention must be the focus. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) offers 5 steps which are important for preventing osteoporosis, when used in combination. It is never too early or too late to start your osteoporosis prevention program.
Calcium is needed for the heart, muscles, and nerves to properly function, for blood to clot, and is needed to grow and maintain healthy bones. The NOF emphasizes the importance of getting the daily recommended amount of calcium (between 1000 and 1300 mg/day) and vitamin D (between 400 and 800 IU/day), if not from your diet, then by taking supplements. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium.
Building strong bones, especially before age 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis. Exercise is imperative to good bone health. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, dancing, jogging, stair-climbing, racquetball, tennis, and hiking are recognized as the best type of exercise to promote good bone health. If you have been sedentary for most of your adult life, the NOF recommends you ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Smoking and alchohol are on the list of risk factors. Smoking has been associated with lower bone density. Because of the negative impact smoking has on health, it is recommended people avoid smoking. High levels of alcohol intake (over 50 units per week in men or 35 units in women) are associated with osteoporosis too, therefore it should be avoided or limited.
Since osteoporosis is preventable, and since behaviors and habits can affect bone health, talk to your doctor about what you should be doing. Get prevention tips from your doctor, as well as information about diagnosis and treatment options. It's sometimes called a "silent disease" since people are unlikely to know they have it unless a fracture occurs or they get bad results on a bone density test. Speak to your doctor before it gets to that point.
A Bone Mineral Density test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. The BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and it's value determines the need for medications to help maintain bone mass, prevent further bone loss, and reduce fracture risk. Several FDA-approved medications are used for the prevention/treatment of osteoporosis: bisphosphonates, bone formation agents, estrogens, parathyroid hormones, and selective receptor modulators.