Haims: Osteoporosis is common; here’s what you can do to reduce your risk (column) | VailDaily.com

Haims: Osteoporosis is common; here’s what you can do to reduce your risk (column)

Judson Haims
Special to the Daily
Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” When our bones are viewed under a microscope, healthy bones appear to look quite similar to a honeycomb. However, bones that are osteoporotic have experienced a loss in mass and density. When osteoporotic bones are viewed under a microscope, they appear to have larger spaces in the honeycomb and therefore are not as strong.
Special to the Daily

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, “Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.” Worldwide, osteoporosis affects one in 10 women older than 60. While it’s less prevalent in men, morbidity is typically higher, particularly when men’s testosterone levels are low.

The most common fractures occur in forearms and the humorous. These fractures are most often incurred as people place their arms out to brace for a fall. The next most common fracture occurs in the hip — often the result of a fall.

While we cannot control all of the risk factors associated with osteoporosis, your diet, exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol and the medications you use may play a part in whether or not you develop osteoporosis. Additional factors include:

• Age — The older you get, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.

• Thyroid problems — Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. This can occur if your thyroid is overactive or if you take too much thyroid hormone medication to treat an underactive thyroid.

• Sex hormones — Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), low estrogen level (menopause) and low testosterone levels in men can bring on osteoporosis.

• Body frame size — Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.

There is no cure for osteoporosis, nor is there a way to completely prevent it. However, there are steps you take to reduce your risk. One of the easiest ways you can help lessen the chance of getting osteoporosis is to integrate calcium and vitamin D into your diet.

It is recommended that people between the ages of 18 and 50 consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. As people age, there becomes a disparity between the needed amount of calcium for men and women. As women near age 50, it is recommended that they ingest about 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. However, men often do not need this amount until they near age 70.

Given not everyone consumes adequate calcium and vitamin D in their diet, the Mayo Clinic suggests the following as good sources of calcium:

• Low-fat dairy products

• Dark-green leafy vegetables

• Canned salmon or sardines with bones

• Soy products, such as tofu

• Calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice

When diet and the use of supplements do not provide the body with enough assistance to maintain strong bones, drug therapy is often recommended. Some drugs have proven to aid in slowing bone loss, and others have shown to help rebuild bone. You should do your own research and consult your doctor(s) when considering what approach that may be best for you.

As we age, keeping mobile, eating right and incorporating balance exercises such as tai chi may help in lowering the risk of falling.

For those with a family history of osteoporosis concerns, a bone density test may be something to consider. The test most commonly used to test bone density is called a central DXA test. The test is very much like that of having an X-ray: It is not intrusive and it is painless.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.

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