Osteoporosis affects millions of Americans, especially women and the elderly, and many of them may not even know they have it. Symptoms usually don’t appear until osteoporosis progresses into the later stages and even then it may not be evident until a bone is broken or fractured. Fortunately, this condition can easily be prevented through some simple lifestyle changes, like the following 10.
Get Enough Calcium And Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for keeping bones strong and healthy. It’s important to maintain a steady intake of both nutrients as they can be depleted from the bones quite easily. Men and women ages 18 to 50 should take in 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day, while those who are 51 and older should take in 1,200 mg per day.
The best way to get these nutrients is from food. Dairy, such as yogurt and cheese, leafy greens and even some fish are great sources of calcium while certain meats and fishes are good sources of vitamin D. Another good source of vitamin D is the sun, which helps the body produce vitamin D naturally. If you can’t eat some of the foods that contain these nutrients, supplements are an option, but be careful of how much you take. Vitamin D can be toxic in high levels, so take no more than 2,000 mg a day, or 2,500 mg a day if you are 51 or older.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to eat foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D. But there are other foods that can keep your bones healthy and protected from osteoporosis. Onions, for instance, can prevent the bones from breaking down, while soy can help maintain proper bone density. At the same time, it’s helpful to avoid foods that can increase the loss of calcium, such as foods that contain caffeine and high amounts of sodium and protein.
Keeping your bones strong is key to preventing osteoporosis and one of the best ways to do so is to exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging or running, combined with strength training, which strengthens the muscles in the arms and upper back, is the best workout for keeping your skeleton strong. For the best results, exercise for half an hour at least three times a week.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tobacco use has been shown to decrease bone density. Further studies suggest smoking can increase the risk of having a bone fracture. Those who smoke don’t heal as quickly as those who don’t smoke, so a fracture has a higher chance of healing slowly and improperly if you smoke. Smoking also decreases the flow of blood to the bones and makes it harder for them to absorb calcium.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption has been linked to a loss of bone density as it prevents the bones from absorbing calcium. Studies show that those who drink more than three ounces of alcohol daily are more likely to have bone loss than those who drink less.
Ward Off Depression
When you’re depressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can deplete the bones of essential minerals. Studies have linked those who suffer from depression to lower bone densities in the hip and spine areas. If you’ve been feeling depressed lately, seek the help of friends and family or even a therapist to resolve the underlying problem.
Make Your Home Fall-Proof
Making simple changes to your home can reduce the risk of falling and suffering a bone injury. Put a rubber bath mat in the tub and outside of the tub so you don’t slip on a wet surface. Always hold onto the railing or hand bars when climbing stairs or when getting out of the shower. Remove any rugs and clutter that you might trip over.
Understand The Risk Factors
Women and the elderly are the two groups that are most affected by osteoporosis, but other risk factors can play a part in determining whether or not you might develop it. Race, body type, environmental and lifestyle factors also play a part as does heredity. A family history of the condition as well as certain genes can be indicators of osteoporosis.
Consider Taking Medication
If you feel you have a high risk of developing osteoporosis, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking an osteoporosis medication. There are also osteoporosis injections that can prevent bone fractures in the hips and spine.
Test Your Bone Density
Bone density tests are the best way to know definitively if you will develop osteoporosis or not. It’s recommended that women ages 65 and older get tested, but if you feel you have a high risk of developing it at an earlier age, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. The bone density test will use X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals that are found in bones. By finding out for sure whether or not you have osteoporosis, you’ll be able to take better preventative measures that will keep the condition from progressing.