A recent article in the Vancouver Sun reports that nearly two million Canadians suffer from osteoporosis, which is the gradual weakening of the bones due to age or calcium deficiency. By comparison, the number is much higher in the United States, with an average of ten million adults afflicted, and 18 million overall suffering some level of bone loss. The biggest challenge in diagnosing osteoporosis comes in detecting it early – oftentimes one doesn’t realize he or she has it until a fall or other injury results in a broken bone. Hip fractures among older Americans are normally attributed to osteoporosis.
Quick Facts About Osteoporosis
While it’s more common for women to develop this illness – loss of estrogen as women age contributes to the weakening of bones – men are not entirely immune. The human skeleton is not a static object, when bones break they work together to knit fractures, and as your body changes so may your bone structure. As you age, however, certain elements required to strengthen and promote bone growth disappear over time, leaving you susceptible to easier fractures where a younger person may not experience breaks. This is why it’s important, as you become older, to be aware of ways to prevent bone loss and in turn be mindful of potential injuries.
Much of what you can do to treat your bones better centers around changes to your diet. Of course, calcium and Vitamin D intake is vital in these years, and you may wish to consult with your physician about supplements to take with meals. Leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, and Spring Mix you buy in the produce section – provide added Vitamin K which blocks bone loss as well. If you eat diary, look for cheese and milk fortified with Vitamin D. Soy is also a good source for calcium.
Other ways to help include:
1) Cutting down on caffeine. Cut back on sodas and coffee whenever possible.
2) Stop smoking. If you smoke, you increase the risk of causing a bone-mineral deficiency in your body.
3) Daily exercise. Thirty minutes of walking, light weights, or stairs do a world of good.
4) Early checks. Consult with your doctor on a bone density test, and keep track of your height for any changes. If it appears you are stooping when you really aren’t, for example, that can be an early warning.
Better bones mean better health as you age. Focus on a good diet and active lifestyle to remain strong.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance health writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach health care.