What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis

8 Facts About Osteoporosis – it’s not just an “old lady” disease.

Osteoporosis can happen at any age and it can affect men too, not just women.  Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans and most people are not even aware they may have it. (Source:  www.nof.org)

Know the facts:

  1. It’s a silent disease.  It’s easy to tell when an older person is bent over from osteoporosis, but in the early stages it is typically asymptomatic.  That’s why it’s so important to get a bone density test, especially for women over age 65 and men over 70 and for any younger who are at risk.
  2. Prevention starts early.  Don’t wait until your 50 to start taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and to do weight-bearing exercises. 
  3. Get Vitamin D.  Sunshine can help protect you, but only if you get outside during the summer when the UV index is 3 or higher.  Living in a sunny climate does not automatically mean you are getting enough vitamin D.  Also, as we age, it is more difficult for the body to generate vitamin D.  Taking nutritional supplements such as a liquid vitamin D is one way to ensure adequate amounts every day, all year round for bone health.
  4. Calcium doesn’t have to mean dairy.  If you are lactose intolerant, getting calcium from dairy is not an option.  There are other good food sources of calcium such as fortified orange juice, soy milk and cereal and dark leafy greens.  Take a liquid calcium supplement with 1000 mg of calcium, but don’t forget the vitamin D.  It plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health.
  5. Exercise the right wayWeight-bearing exercise is important to help build strong bones.  Walking, running, tennis or dancing will do it – bicycling and swimming won’t. 
  6. A few extra pounds are OK.  Thin people are at higher risk of osteoporosis than those who are carrying a few extra pounds.  This doesn’t mean overweight – it just means a healthy weight for your gender and height – you should be at the “normal” range.
  7. African Americans have lower risk.  They are far less likely to get osteoporosis than Caucasians because they have stronger bones and tend to have greater bone density.  African Americans are not off the hook though, they still need to take preventative measures for bone health.
  8. More in the future.  Even more women may develop osteoporosis due to increased anti-hormone replacement therapy a few years ago.  Going off of hormone therapy may cause more rapid estrogen loss which could result in an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Moral of the story – don’t wait.  Managing osteoporosis means you need to start taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement  today, get a bone density test if you are at risk and start walking!