Most people probably expect at least some form of osteoporosis when creeping up on old age, but if we can find out what causes it, we can then find out what helps prevent osteoporosis, and put our expectations on better things.
Whether osteoporosis becomes completely debilitating, just occasionally painful and limiting, or whether you will end up with it at all is usually determined by the way you live your life along the way. Take it from one who knows. It is not something easily dealt with. I have had minor osteoporosis since I was in my very early fifties but thankfully it has not progressed quickly. I do
have some erosion of one hip joint and see a replacement looming ominously in the future, but meanwhile I am being a good girl and doing everything I can to ward it off.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”, meaning that sufferers are at a much greater risk of bone fractures due to less bone mass and strength. It can be
extremely debilitating especially after the age of 65. After menopause the rate of bone breakdown occurs more quickly. (Like we need something else, right)? Women are four times more likely to get it than men but the outlook is good if the problem is detected and treated early. Bone density can be counterbalanced and improved.
How Does Osteoporosis Happen?
Many things contribute to your chances of acquiring osteoporosis, some preventable and some not.
Uncontrollable risk factors:
- gender (being female and going
- being underweight and/or
having a petite bone structure
- medications that cause bone
loss such as steroids and treatments for breast cancer or seizures
- certain surgeries such as
- ethnicity ( more prevalent in
Caucasian and Asian women)
- certain medical conditions
such as overactive thyroid, weight loss surgery or organ transplant,
hormone treatments, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease,
certain blood diseases.
Controllable risk factors:
- not getting enough calcium or vitamin D
- too much protein, caffeine, alcohol, and sodium
- loss of weigh
- inactive lifestyle
- lactose intolerance
- eating disorders
- fluoride. Expanding on this one a bit is necessary. Studies have shown that fluoridation of the water supply increased osteoporosis by 30% in women and 40% in men. Fluoride is toxic to bones and increases fracture risks. At one time fluoridating our water was considered a good health aid but that has since been proven incorrect. Consider buying a reverse osmosis water filter.
Symptoms and Signs of Osteoporosis
OK so let’s move on to the symptoms and what are the signs of osteoporosis so we can head this malady off at the pass. There are no actual easily spotted symptoms of osteoporosis, but watch out for these signs:
- loss of weight and getting shorter
- stooping posture
- shortness of breath due to smaller lung capacity from a compressed disk
- bone fractures.
As well my osteoporosis causes pain in my one hip, especially when sitting or lying in the same position for too long.
First and foremost all women over the age of 50 should have a bone density test. This will alert you to the possibility of eventually getting the big O so you can work on avoiding it. Or it will give you the bad news that you have it already or it is imminent. So then it is a matter of full on dealing with it in the best way possible. Here is a bone density scale for
Normal bone mass –
-1.0 and above
Low bone mass –
-1.0 to -2.5
-2.5 and lower
Treatments for full on osteoporosis include regular exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications. Unfortunately most of the prescription medications are problematic after long term use.
Weight bearing resistance, and balance exercises are all necessary. When bones are put under strain it stimulates their growth.
Best Supplements for Osteoporosis
You should supplement with calcium and vitamin D. There are plant based calcium supplements based on algae which are excellent. For those of you needing calcium supplements it is important to note that the body is only able to absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time. Therefore you need to take your supplements in divided doses.
Adult men who are aged 51-70 need 1000 mg per day and adult women of the same age range need 1200 mg.
If you are on antacids it is better to use calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate.
Vitamin D is a necessary companion to calcium as it enables the body to absorb the calcium. A few hours per week of direct sunlight and drinking fortified milk are additional ways to obtain enough vitamin D. One precaution, however:
Do not take mega-doses of Vitamin D, as this can injure healthy kidneys.
Healthy Foods for Osteoporosis and What to Avoid
A healthy diet is essential. And there are some specific good and healthy foods for osteoporosis avoidance.
Besides milk, there are other good sources of calcium such as salmon with bones, sardines, kale, broccoli, calcium fortified breads and juices, and dried figs. Be sure to add some vitamin K rich foods to your diet as well as this reduces the risk of hip fractures. Foods rich in K are leafy green vegetables, cabbage, liver, and fermented cheeses.
I know this is easier said than done but try to reduce the stress and anxiety in your life. Studies have shown that these are both detrimental to bone health. Warm Epsom salt baths and meditating can ease these bad guys.
The good news is that if you know what helps prevent osteoporosis, you can lead a perfectly happy and healthy life, as long as you take precautions and practice the habits listed above.
Here are some organizations to help you:
National Osteoporosis Foundation