Bone Health

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Protecting your bones and maintaining their health is an easier task than you think. Comprehend how physical activity, diet, and further lifestyle factors can affect your bone health. Bones have various functions in your body which vary from providing framework, guarding organs, anchoring muscles to depositing calcium. While it's important to construct healthy and strong bones during your childhood and adolescence, you can follow simple steps during adulthood to protect your bone health, too.


Why is bone health important?

Your bones are continuously changing and getting renewed. New bones are being made and old bones are being disintegrated. When you're young, the process of building up new bones in your body is faster than disintegration of the old bones, and this way your bone mass increases. Most people attain their peak bone mass around the age of 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.

Your likeliness to develop osteoporosis, a condition that results into weakening and shattering of bones, depends on the amount of bone mass you reach by the time you reach the age of 30 and how quickly you lose it thereafter. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have in your reserve and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age off.

What affects bone health?

A number of factors can affect bone health. For example:

The amount of calcium in your diet: Calcium, a mineral, keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy. A diet insufficient in calcium leads to an early bone loss, diminished bone density, and an increased likeliness for fractures.

Physical activity: During physical activity, muscles push and tug against bones which lead to strengthening of both bones and muscles. People who do not give themselves a drag physically have a higher risk of osteoporosis than their more-active peers.

Tobacco and alcohol use: Studies reveal that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, having more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, this is because alcohol can hamper with the body's ability to absorb calcium.

Gender: You're more likely to develop osteoporosis if you're a woman, because women naturally possess less bone tissue than men do.

Size: You're at risk of developing the disease if you have a small body frame or you're extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less). This is due to the fact that you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age.

Age: With advancement in age, your bones tend to become thinner and weaker.

Race and family history: If you're white or of Asian descent, you're at greatest risk of osteoporosis. In addition, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures.

Hormone levels: Too high levels of thyroid hormone can cause bone loss to occur. In women, bone loss or disintegration increases drastically at menopause due to falling estrogen levels. Extended absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the likeliness of osteoporosis. In men, low levels of testosterone hormone can cause a loss of bone mass.

Eating disorders and other conditions: People who suffer from the disease conditions; anorexia or bulimia are at high risk of bone loss. Moreover, weight-loss surgery, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), and conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and Cushing's disease can reduce your body's ability to absorb calcium.

Certain medications: Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisolone, prednisone, cortisone, and dexamethasone has a negative impact on your bones. Other drugs that might increase the risk of osteoporosis include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications, such as phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin), and proton pump inhibitors.

Myths about bone health

• Only elderly women develop osteoporosis.
• If you’re lactose-intolerant, you can only get calcium from supplements.
• You can’t take calcium supplements if you have trouble swallowing pills.
• It’s not a big deal if you forget to take your calcium supplements.
• Eating dairy and taking calcium are all that’s needed to prevent osteoporosis.
• You can’t get too much calcium.

What can I do to keep my bones healthy?

You can take a few simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss. For example:
Include plenty of calcium in your diet: Rich sources of calcium include dairy products, kale, broccoli, almonds, sardines, canned salmon with bones, and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about calcium supplements.
Pay attention to vitamin D: Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body's production of vitamin Din your body. If you're worried about getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor about best vitamin d supplements.

Include physical activity in your daily routine: Weight-bearing exercises, such as jogging, walking, tennis and climbing stairs, can help you build strong and healthy bones and decrease your rate of bone loss.

Avoid substance abuse: Don't smoke. Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
Enlist your doctor's help

If you're concerned about your bone health or your risk factors for osteoporosis, including a recent bone fracture, consult your doctor. He or she might recommend a bone density test. The results will help your doctor gauge your bone density and determine your rate of bone loss. By evaluating this information and your risk factors, your doctor can assess whether you might be a candidate for medication to help slow bone loss. Your doctor may also recommend you to take supplements for matching up your requirements for enough calcium and vitamins for bone health.

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