Osteoporosis: Health and Nutrition Facts

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Osteoporosis: Health and Nutrition Facts - Videos

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Nutrition Health Food Safety

More by Dori Owczarzak, MS, RD, LDN 

Food,Families and Health

More by Laurie Weinreb-Welch, MPH, MCHES 

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- [Voiceover] Are you at risk for osteoporosis?

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the disease in which the bones become weak.

This weakness makes the bones easier to break.

Most often, the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist are broken due to osteoporosis.

In the United States, 10 million people have osteoporosis.

Millions more have osteopenia, which is a condition characterized by low bone mass.

Osteopenia is a risk factor for osteoporosis and broken bones.

Who is affected by osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is most common in older women, although it can affect anyone.

One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.

What causes osteoporosis?

There are many risk factors that can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis.

Some are controllable, and others are not.

There are five main risk factors associated with osteoporosis that you cannot change, sex, age, frame size, ethnicity, and family history.

Let's take a look at these risk factors.

Sex, osteoporosis affects women more often than it affects men.

Age, as you age, the risk for osteoporosis increases.

Bone mass peaks at about age 35, and then declines.

Women can lose 20% of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause.

Frame size, small, thin women with small bone structure are at greater risk for osteoporosis.

Ethnicity, both white and Asian woman are at the highest risk for osteoporosis.

Black and Hispanic women are at a lower risk, although they can also be affected.

Family history, osteoporosis tends to run in families.

If you have a family member with osteoporosis or a history of broken bones, there is a greater chance you might develop it too.

There are eight additional risk factors associated with osteoporosis.

These risk factors can generally be controlled.

Let's take a look.

Hormone status, low estrogen levels due to menopause or missing menstrual periods can cause osteoporosis in women.

Low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men.

Diet, a diet low in calcium and Vitamin D and high in salt increases the risk of bone loss.

Medication use, there are some medications that increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Activity level, a lack of exercise or long term bed rest can cause weak bones.

Smoking, use of cigarettes is bad for you bones, heart, and lungs.

Drinking alcohol, according to the National Osteoporosis Association, those who consume more than two or three ounces of alcohol a day will become more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Anorexia nervosa, this eating disorder can lead to osteoporosis.

Vitamin supplements, avoid taking excessive amounts of Vitamin A supplements.

So, how can you reduce the risk for osteoporosis?

To keep your bones strong and slow down bone loss, there are a few steps you can take.

First, you need to keep your bones strong.

You can do this by eating well, and including calcium and Vitamin D in your diet.

You can also exercise to help maintain or increase bone strength.

Do not drink in excess or smoke.

Talk to your health care provider about the medications you are taking.

While some medications are prescribed to prevent and treat osteoporosis, others that are prescribed for other purposes may result in bone loss.

To help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, consider increasing the following foods in your diet to boost calcium, low-fat dairy products, canned beans such as Navy, Great Northern, and pinto beans, calcium-fortified products, such as orange juice and cereal, canned fish with bones, such as sardines and salmon.

You can also add calcium to your diet by trying some of the following tips.

Add shredded cheese to English muffins, bagels, or toast.

Drink milk at meals instead of soda or other beverages, and enjoy a glass of chocolate milk or hot chocolate for a snack.

Add broccoli to salads.

Add non-fat, dry milk to recipes such as meatballs, meatloaf, and creamed soups.

Following these simple tips can help you keep your bones strong and lower your risk for osteoporosis.

Doing so can lead to a healthier and more productive life.

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