The Importance of Healthy, Strong Bones
William Von Almen, M.D.
Bones make up the framework of our body. They support our muscles and protect our internal organs. Without them, we would have no balance or mobility. Therefore, it is very important to keep our bones healthy and strong. But how do you know if your bones are tough enough? Most people have no clue about the health of their bones until they have a fracture.
Are You at Risk?
Osteoporosis is considered a silent disease and a common problem with aging. It affects more than 18 million Americans. When your body cannot create a new bone as fast as the deterioration of your old bones, osteoporosis sets in. There are a few warning signs and risk factors for developing osteoporosis:
- Reduction in Estrogen: This is a main contributor to bone loss in women. Estrogen plays a critical role in building and maintaining bone mass. Loss in estrogen can be a result of menopause, chemotherapy, radiation for cancer treatment or the removal of ovaries.
- Your Lifestyle Choices: Smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis and can prevent your body from absorbing calcium. Also, heavy alcohol consumption is linked to weakening bones.
- Diet: If you have struggled with an eating disorder, your hormonal levels will be extremely low, which interferes with your bone production. Also, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D can increase your risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Inactive Lifestyle: Studies show that low levels of physical activity contribute to brittle bones.
- Medications: Long-term use of certain medications is linked to bone loss. Studies show that drugs such as anti-clogging, suppressants and drugs to treat prostate cancer increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Family History: If your parents or sibling has or had osteoporosis, you have a higher chance of developing osteoporosis.
Protect Your Bones
The best way to counteract osteoporosis is to take steps early in life to prevent bone loss. Osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood and continue into adulthood. However, it is never too late to adapt to a healthy lifestyle for bone loss prevention. Here are a few tips to optimize your bone health:
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Calcium and Vitamin D both work together to help your bones absorb calcium. Your body demands more calcium during childhood and post-menopause. Studies show that a daily dose of 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate combined with 400 IUs of vitamin D3 helps to improve hip bone density and reduce hip fractures. You’ll also find these nutrients in food, such as milk, spinach, almonds and orange juice.
- Nutrition: A healthy, balanced diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables are essential for bone health as well as consuming enough calories. People with smaller frames are more likely to develop osteoporosis at a younger age.
- Exercise: As mentioned before, exercise is vitally important to bone mass production. The best exercise for building and maintaining bone mass is weight-bearing exercises, such as jogging, aerobics, hiking, walking, and weight training. These exercises require you to work against gravity.
Although, it is not proven that you can reverse bone deterioration. It is best to know your bone health to prevent further weakening of your bones. If you have any concerns, make an appointment with one of our doctors at touro.com/findadoc
Dr. William Von Almen received his Doctorate from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. He completed his internship at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and his residency at Louisiana State University Hospital. He is also certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.