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Prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia

The Kentucky Standard

05-15-18

By Dr. Carmen Folmar

Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases that affects older adults, impacting nearly 10 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It occurs when bones begin to lose their density, creating spaces in the bone structure that are much larger than in a healthy bone. Those spaces make the bone increasingly porous, and more susceptible to breakage.

Another roughly 44 million Americans have osteopenia, which involves below normal levels of bone density, but is not as severe as osteoporosis. Those diagnosed with osteopenia are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that by 2025, osteoporosis will cause more than three million fractures annually. It's estimated about one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of the disease. This often results in limited mobility for seniors, who may then require long-term nursing care.

Though osteoporosis is typically thought of as a woman's disease, men are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer. And while no one is immune to developing osteoporosis, certain conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome may increase one's risk of developing the condition. Some medications, including some used to treat seizures and certain types of cancer, may also contribute to loss of bone density.

Osteoporosis cannot be cured, only treated, making prevention crucial. It's never too early to start: the more bone density a person has when the reach peak bone mass ? typically around age 30 ? the less likely they are to develop osteoporosis later on in life.

To help prevent osteoporosis and minimize its impact, it's important to get plenty of calcium. For most people, 1,000 milligrams per day is sufficient. While low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium, greens including broccoli, kale and okra can also help you meet your daily requirement. Vitamin D is also important, so prioritize getting plenty of sunshine, and eat foods rich in the nutrient, such as fatty fishes and egg yolks.

Taking supplements may also help you meet your daily calcium and vitamin D requirements, but you should first talk to your physician to see if that is the best option. In some cases, a physician may recommend augmenting your intake with an oral supplement. In addition, they may also encourage you to avoid smoking, limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day, get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy weight.

Even after taking these preventative steps, many older adults may still develop osteoporosis, but early diagnosis can help. The month of May marks National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, which is a great time to talk to your physician about ways you can build strong bones and prevent or manage osteoporosis. Those older than 50, particularly those with multiple risk factors, should talk to their doctor about a bone mineral density test (BMD) to determine if bone loss is present. Then if necessary, a treatment plan, including medication and hormone therapy can be discussed.

Articles featured in Life Extension Daily News are derived from a variety of news sources and are provided as a service by Life Extension. These articles, while of potential interest to readers of Life Extension Daily News, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Life Extension.

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