Osteoporosis: What it is and how you can avoid its devastating complications––Mika Bradford


What It Is and How You Can Avoid Its Devastating Complications

Courtesy Mika Bradford, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine

Osteoporosis affects 10 million people in the United States alone, and another 34 million Americans are at risk of osteopenia, or low bone mass, which can lead to lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and poor bone quality. While this condition was once associated primarily with women, men are now screened more often for osteoporosis if they have qualifying risk factors. A drop in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a drop in testosterone in men is a leading cause of bone loss.

Other risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Decreased calcium and vitamin D intake
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • The ongoing use of medications like anticonvulsants and corticosteroids
  • Insufficient amount of weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, dancing, yoga or playing tennis (at least 30 minutes on most days).

The frequency in fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist are increased with this condition. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons along with the Mayo Clinic recognizes that each year, 1.5 million fractures are attributed to osteoporosis, including 350,000 hip fractures.Maintaining healthy bone mass throughout your lifetime is important in preventing broken bones and secondary injuries associated with osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis can result in lost work time or the inability to perform daily living activities. Seventy percent of people suffering from osteoporosis do not return to previous pre-injury level of activity or health status. The financial burden incurred and associated with osteoporosis-related fractures can be costly for the person who is injured as well as for the family members or caregivers. Broken bones lead to inactivity which creates secondary complications with weight gain, poor circulations and other health concerns that accompany a sedentary lifestyle.

Testing for Osteoporosis is a simple process done by bone mineral density assessment (most often with a DEXA scan) that measures your bone mineral density. This test will diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis as well as assist in predicting your risk for future bone fractures. This test will be performed annually or bi-annually depending on your physician’s recommendations. The scan is also helpful in determining how effective dietary changes, exercise, dietary supplements and medications have been in stopping additional bone loss or increasing bone mass accumulation once a diagnosis of osteoporosis has been given. A spine or hip x-ray may also be required if your physician is concerned there is a fracture or collapse of the spinal bones. You may also be asked to have additional blood and urine tests performed if your osteoporosis is thought to be due to a medical condition, rather than simply the usual bone loss seen with older age.

A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for strong bones. Calcium and vitamin D are available in many food sources as well as in dietary supplements.

Food sources include:

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Kale
  • Fish
  • Fortified Cereals

Calcium is needed to build new bone and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Adults under the age of 50 should have approximately 1,000 mg of calcium and a minimum of 400 – 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Women ages 51 to 70 should have 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 – 800 IU of vitamin D a day; men ages 51 to 70 need 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 – 800 IU of vitamin D a day. Adults over the age of 70 should get 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Depending on your individual health concerns the amount of calcium your doctor recommends may be less especially if you have a history of kidney stones and atherosclerosis. Your doctor may also recommend a higher amount of vitamin D to be taken daily or as a prescription taken once a week depending on bone mineralization test results and a blood test for vitamin D. Other nutrients that have been shown to be supportive in maintaining or increasing bone density are silica and strontium. Taking a combination approach to address osteoporosis and osteopenia along with lifestyle changes and regular assessments can help you stay fit and active for many years to come!

Mika Bradford is a certified nutritionist and pharmacy technician. Mika has spent over a decade working in the manufacturing, retail and the clinical application of nutritional supplements. She has worked closely with clients facing a wide range of health issues, including those with special needs and long-term health conditions. If you have questions for Mika you may contact her at mbradford@doughertys.com or 817-705-7221.