What You Should Know About Bone Loss
Are you 50 years of age or older? Then this article on bone loss is for you.
Put simply, bone loss is what makes bones weak and brittle as people age. If left unchecked, even a minor stressor like a fall or coughing can cause a fracture.
The statistics make the impact of bone loss clear:
More than half of American women over the age of 50 have detectable levels of bone loss, known as osteopenia. 20% have osteoporosis, where bone loss is bad enough to cause weakened bones and an increased risk for fractures.
For men, the numbers are lower, but still of concern: one in twenty-five men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, and 20% have osteopenia.
These statistics mean that bone loss is a significant health issue for aging adults.
It’s also an economic issue. The medical costs associated with bone loss are estimated at $16 billion annually. As the U.S. population ages, that number is predicted to rise to $95 billion by 2040.
Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?
Unfortunately, bone loss is a silent disease that often remains hidden until a fracture occurs from an otherwise trivial activity.
With that said, research has identified some risk factors that can help to identify people who will be more likely to develop osteoporosis:
- If you have a parent who suffered a fracture after age 50, you will be at higher risk.
- People with smaller frames (i.e. less original bone mass) are at higher risk.
- Women are generally at a higher risk than men after they have reached menopause.
- Caucasian and Asian people are at a higher risk.
Bone loss risk is also increased by the following:
- Declining levels of estrogen and testosterone (in both women and men) can cause increased bone loss with age. Excess cortisol production has also been associated with osteoporosis.
- Insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Lack of weight-bearing exercise and/or too much sitting.
- Use of tobacco or alcohol.
The only way to screen for bone loss is through a bone density scan.
Preserve and Protect Your Bones
Most people don’t understand that healthy bone is constantly being produced and destroyed within the body.
During childhood and adolescence, bone is produced at a faster rate than it wears out, allowing the body to grow.
After childhood and adolescence, the rate at which bone is produced slows throughout adulthood. After age 50, most people lose bone cells faster than new ones are produced. As a result, overall bone mass is lost
Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize or reverse bone loss:
- Weight-bearing exercise
- Increase your calcium intake
- Take vitamin D
- Have your hormone levels tested
Not weightlifting…but weight-bearing. This means exercise that involves supporting your own body weight. Examples include running, walking, and jumping jacks. This type of exercise encourages bone production, even after the age of 50.
Calcium is the most important single substance needed to create bone cells. But most people don’t get nearly enough from diet alone.
Experts recommend that adults consume 1000 mg/day of calcium, while women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70 should consume 1200 mg/day. To put this in perspective, you would need to eat three cups of plain yogurt each day to get 1200 mg of calcium. Calcium supplements can be used to make up the difference between what you need and what you’re getting from your diet.
Your body needs adequate amounts of vitamin D for calcium to be properly absorbed. Again, most people don’t get enough vitamin D from food alone, making supplementation a necessity.
Age-related deficiencies in estrogen and testosterone can have a significant impact on bone health. Bioidentical hormone therapy can help to restore hormones to optimal levels.
Don’t Let Bone Loss Compromise Your Quality of Life
Bone loss can have a serious impact on mobility, and overall quality of life.
To learn if you are at risk for bone loss and other age-related conditions, schedule a free consultation with Renew Youth by calling 800-859-7511 or use our contact form.