Bones have several functions in your body. They provide structure, anchor muscles, and protect your organs. Steps can be taken to build stronger bones during childhood and adolescence, but after reaching peak bone mass at the age of 30, you should shift your focus to preserving your bones and preventing accelerated bone loss. With age, the rate at which bone loss occurs outpaces the speed of bone rebuilding. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is characterized by accelerated bone loss that can cause weak and brittle bones. With osteoporosis, even a sneeze or abrupt movement can cause a fracture.
The good news is, osteoporosis is largely preventable. Below are actionable steps you can take to keep your bones healthy.
This mineral is the building block of bones and is found in many foods. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, fortified orange juice, and broccoli, and kale. Find out your daily calcium needs and aim to get it from food, and if necessary, supplements. Generally, women over the age of 50 need 1,200 milligrams per day, while younger women need 1,000 milligrams per day. Talk to your primary care provider before beginning supplementation.
For the bones to absorb calcium, vitamin D is necessary. The best way to get vitamin D is sun exposure. Again, the amount of time needed for your body to synthesize vitamin D varies from person to person. Generally, between 10 to 20 minutes a day of sun exposure is enough for vitamin D. Keep your face, legs, arms, abdomen, and back exposed. Food can also be a source of vitamin D. Examples include salmon, tuna, trout, mushrooms, eggs, fortified milk, and cereal. Women under the age of 70 need 600 IUs of vitamin D per day, while women over the age of 70 need 800 IUs per day. If you are not reaching these levels, talk to your doctor about supplementation.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, hiking, and climbing stairs, benefit the hips and spine and prevent accelerated bone loss. The benefits of exercise include improving balance, which helps prevent fracture-causing falls. For variety, you can throw in dancing, yoga, and Pilates, which will benefit you beyond preserving your bones.
Smoking and Drinking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your bones. Nicotine is toxic to your bones, preventing the absorption of calcium and slowing the rebuilding of bones. If you must drink, do it in moderation, since alcohol is known to decrease bone density. It may have something to do with alcohol affecting the production of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption.
Know Your Osteoporosis Risk
Many factors increase your risk for osteoporosis. For example, certain medications can accelerate bone loss. If you are taking medication for a health condition, talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk. Being menopausal is another risk factor. Also, consult your doctor about when to start osteoporosis screenings, which involves a bone density DEXA scan. We recommend women age 65 or older of average risk be screened for osteoporosis.
Bone Specialist in San Antonio, TX
If you’ve suffered a fracture, have our orthopedic surgeons at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine provide expert care for it. Fractures in people age 50 or older may signal osteoporosis and should receive prompt care. We practice patient-centric care and make sure you find out your osteoporosis risk and learn how to reduce your risk of fractures and preserve your bones. To make an appointment, call (210) 692-7400 or use our online request form.