World Osteoporosis Day is October 20th
Learn how our bones function, the risks, and a few steps you can take to improve bone health here!
Bone Tissue and Aging
Throughout our lives, we’re constantly forming new bone tissue. However, this doesn’t mean that our bones are constantly getting stronger, because while we are forming new bone tissue, we’re also breaking down old bone tissue through a process called bone resorption. (Which is why we don’t grow old with massively huge and heavy bones.)
When we’re young, these two processes, bone formation and bone resorption, balance each other out, and our bones remain strong and healthy. But as we age, bone resorption begins to occur at a quicker pace than bone formation.
This results in a gradual loss of bone mass and therefore structural strength that can become worse, the older we get. With women that have been through menopause, this loss of bone integrity is compounded by the loss of estrogen that comes with menopause. Estrogen has a protective effect on the bones, and the less we have, the more vulnerable our bones can become.
Though osteoporosis is more common in women, it can be just as troubling for men (and some children). This is a disease that develops gradually and causes no pain, yet leaves the bones weak, brittle, and more vulnerable to breaks and fractures after falls, knocks, and sudden impacts.
Someone with osteoporosis can lose both strength and bone density. As the bones lose mass, it leaves the bones resembling a loose sponge as the structural web of beams that make up our bone tissue begins to thin.
Osteoporosis may not be painful itself, but when a bone is broken, it’s very painful and potentially difficult to mend. In fact, often the first physical sign of osteoporosis comes after being admitted to hospital with a break after tripping or falling, or if severe, something as innocuous as sneezing.
Other Causes & Next Steps
Osteoporosis has been linked to leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, taking high-dose steroids for longer than three months, taking certain other medications such as those after having breast cancer, having a low BMI, having an eating disorder, and having a family history of the disease.
It’s important that anyone that’s suspected of having weak bones or osteoporosis is investigated thoroughly. Doctors and medical specialists often use a combination of medical history, age, blood tests, bone density scans (DEXA scans), and bone fracture risk scores to diagnose osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is normally cared for with bone-strengthening medications or other medications that work to protect the bones in a similar way to estrogen. But it may also be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle involving plenty of regular exercise, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking. Taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months, could also be helpful, as are a range of other supplements including but not limited to calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin K, or proprietary bone-supporting supplements such as Osteosine™. Before making any selections as to what will work best on an individual level, each individual should consult with their healthcare provider to develop a plan.
Just like the health of our hearts, muscles, immune system, and everything else, looking after our bone health is essential for good overall health and well-being. With the right lifestyle, diet, and awareness, conditions like this may be avoided.