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Posted: January 31, 2008

8 Top Tips on Avoiding Osteoporosis

We can’t control all the factors that contribute to broken bones caused by osteoporosis, but we can take many matters into our own hands to strengthen and preserve our bones and guard against the 1.5 million osteoporosis fractures recorded annually in the United States.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to bone fragility and an increased risk of fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist, although any bone can be affected.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation calls the disease a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55% of the population over age 50. In the US, 10 million people are estimated to already have the disease, including 8 million women and 2 million men.

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According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, there are eight factors to keep in mind in staving off osteoporosis:

  1. Get vital nutrients: Maintain a healthy diet that provides bone-building nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D.

  2. Exercise: Get at least 30 minutes of bone-strengthening activity most days. Include both weight-bearing activities, like running or brisk walking, and resistance exercise.

  3. Don’t smoke: Smokers lose bone faster and have higher fracture rates.

  4. Know your risk: Most guidelines recommend osteoporosis screening through bone mineral density (BMD) testing starting at age 65 -- earlier for women who have health conditions or take medications that increase risk.

  5. Consider bone-preserving drugs: Postmenopausal women who’ve had a fracture or received a BMD score of –2.5 or worse should take an osteoporosis drug. Women with scores of –2.0 to –2.5 should consider medication.

  6. Be aware of the depression connection: Research has found links between depression and bone loss. For example, women with a history of major depression have lower bone density and higher levels of cortisol, a hormone related to bone loss. If you’re being treated for depression, ask your doctor whether you should have a BMD test.

  7. Maintain a healthy weight: Weighing less than 127 pounds or having a body mass index under 21 is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Also, if you are a woman and lose weight during the menopausal transition, you’re more likely to lose bone. Avoid ultra-low-calorie diets and diets that eliminate whole food groups.

  8. Avoid falls: Keep floors clear of tripping hazards, make sure stairways and entrances are well lit, and add grab bars to your bathtub or shower.

RESOURCE:

National Osteoporosis Foundation

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