Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass, with a decrease in bone density and an increase of bone spaces. It is associated with porosity and fragility in the bone, which makes bones especially susceptible to fractures.
Every person has an individual peak bone mass that is dependent on your lifestyle and genetic factors. People reach their peak bone mass sometime in their early thirties and from that time forward, a loss of bone mass can occur. The more rapidly you lose bone mass, the higher your risk of fracture, with hips, wrists and the spine being at greatest risk.
There are many factors associated with being at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis, with the most common being:
- Women over the age of 50
- Early onset of menopause
- Family history
- Thin and small body frame
- Prior bone loss related fractures
- Insufficient physical activity
- Vitamin C and D deficiencies
- Certain anti-cancer treatments
- Thyroid and arthritis conditions
- Use of blood-thinning agents
Bone loss associated with osteoporosis is a preventable condition. While it’s never too late to alter the course of the disease, the sooner you start, the better.
- Exercise every day, with the focus on weight-bearing activities such as walking, hiking, dancing and strength training.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
- Increase your intake of plant-based foods, including cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and soy products.
- Make sure you get an adequate level of vitamin D. In a sunny climate, 30 minutes of sunshine 3 times per week without sunscreen will be adequate. The current recommendation is 1000-2000 IU per day of an active vitamin D supplement.
- Make sure you get an adequate level of calcium, with is currently advised at 1000 mg per day.
- Prevent falls by using handrails and walking aids if necessary.