Wednesday, September 16, 2009


As if getting old wasn’t bad enough now my bones might break?

Well, such a statement isn’t completely true...or is it? I’m referring to the disorder known as osteoporosis. As if the rising population of senior citizens didn’t have enough to worry about, osteoporosis, like high cholesterol and blood pressure is a condition which can occur silently with no symptoms.

What is it?

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that causes the body to break down bone at a much greater rate then bone formation. There are a few forms of osteoporosis but the most common form is post menopausal. Estrogen is a hormone which aids the body in slowing down the release of calcium from bones. When women enter menopause the amount of estrogen in their body decreases which is one of the many reasons aging women are at a greater risk for developing osteoporosis. But don’t think your safe because your a man. Although women suffer from osteoporosis more then twice as much as men, they are still at risk. This relates similarly to men who experience a decline in testosterone with the effects of aging. Both these hormones play a part in affecting what’s called Bone Mass Density which can be consider as the quality or thickness of your bones.

What are the risk factors?

Need another reason to quit smoking? That’s right, women who smoke usually are much thinner. Having a less lean body mass being applied to their bones usually means a lower bone mass density. Furthermore, smoking interferes with estrogens role in the body and has been shown to cause menopause earlier then in women who don’t smoke. Living a inactive lifestyle with little to no exercise as well as high stress levels can also be risk factors. Stress affects the amount of Calcium and Vitamin D you absorb in your diet, stripping your bones from the nutrients it needs to survive. Enjoy your morning coffee or a beer at the end of the day? Well both alcohol and caffeine can affect not only ones ability to absorb nutrients but are also diuretics which causes us to urinate more and influences our loss of calcium. Try not consuming more then three cups of coffee, tea or soft drinks a day and keep alcoholic intake to a minimum of two drinks daily. Other risk factors consist of being female, over the age of 50, family history of osteoporosis, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D and even certain medications.

How can I stop this from happening to me?

There are many ways a person can decrease their risk of developing osteoporosis. One of the most important ways to reduce ones risk of osteoporosis is get active. Bone mass density usually peaks around the age of 30 and then slowly starts its decline as we enter the aging process. Getting active early as an adolescent or even later as an aging adult can help slow the loss of bone mass density. Most importantly think about implementing weight bearing exercises into your lifestyle and put your muscles and bones to work. Also, focus on exercises which increase your balance and can help reduce the risk of falls which can lead to osteoporosis fractures. However, people who are already suffering from osteoporosis should try and refrain from exercises which put the back into forward flexion such as sit ups, abdominal crunches and cycling. This position puts more force through the back which can lead to fractures. Try increasing the amount of calcium and vitamin D into your diet. Calcium is important for your bones and vitamin D helps it be absorbed. Depending on your age calcium and vitamin D daily requirements can vary. Refer to and the Canadian food guide to see more. Calcium rich foods are milk, cheese, yogurt, and fortified orange juice and soy products. Vitamin D can be found in margarine, eggs, salmon, herring and fish oils (such as cod liver oil).

Another approach is to modify your risk factors such as decreasing your intake of caffeine, alcohol and cut back on the smoking. The elderly should take precautions to reduce their risk of falls such as keeping hallways and stairwells clear of clutter, installing hand rails in appropriate areas around the house and avoid overly loose fitting clothing, high heels and rugs which are not bolted down. For further insight one should consult their local chiropractor or medical doctor.

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