What Causes Loss of Bone Density?
When we are young, the osteoblasts are very active. Bones grow rapidly so that they can support the rest of our growing tissues. During young adulthood, the rate of new bone formation and old bone reabsorption is about equal.
However, as we age the rate of new bone formation slows down. If we have risk factors for osteoporosis, the resorption of bone may greatly exceed the production of new bone. Bones may weaken and develop a frail, lacelike structure which is prone to fractures.
Osteoporosis is most likely to develop in the vertebrae, hips, and wrists.
What are Signs of Osteoporosis?
Often there are no signs until pain or a fracture occurs. This is why screening tests are important.
Multiple fractures in the vertebrae may cause them to become displaced. A large hump may appear along the spine. This was historically known as a “dowager’s hump,” but medical professionals call this condition “kyphosis.” It is painful and may restrict mobility. Breathing may be difficult due to deformity.
If osteoporosis progresses, the bones may become so weak that they break with little provocation. A cough, minor bump, or even a hug may result in a fracture. A fractured hip may result simply from a change in position.
Preventing Osteoporosis, or Preventing it From Progressing
Fortunately, there are several strategies which you may use to enhance the health of your bones.
- Take a minimum of 1000 mg. per day of calcium. Ask your health care provider for an individualized recommendation.
- Take a vitamin D supplement. Many calcium supplements contain vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. You need all of them. Ask your doctor to recommend or prescribe a good quality product.
- Obtain most of your calcium from your diet. Dairy products, enriched foods, sardines, and dark green vegetables are among the best sources.
- Get moderate exercise. If you have osteoporosis or other health problems, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
- Do not drink more than one alcoholic beverage daily.
- Don’t smoke.
- Include soy and other foods in your diet which are high in phytoestrogens.
- Discuss options regarding natural hormone replacement therapy with your health care provider.
- Ask your health care provider about medications which slow bone loss.
- Protect your bones from injury.
If you are young, start protecting your bones today. You have the power to promote bone health regardless of whether or not you have osteoporosis. Take steps today which will prevent bone loss, pain, and debility.