Osteoporosis is a loss of calcium in the bones that causes them to become weak and brittle. At its worst, it can cause bones to fracture after a mild fall or even a sudden movement. Osteoporosis is most common among women after menopause, but it can affect men and women of any race.
Many cases of osteoporosis stem from the fact that people naturally lose bone density as they get older, and while some bone loss is inevitable, there are still ways of combating and even preventing severe osteoporosis. Here are just a few that should be kept in mind.
Recognizing Risk Factors
Although osteoporosis can affect anybody, there are some common risk factors that seem to make some people more prone to developing this condition. It is most common among women after menopause, but other risk factors include a low body weight, a low calcium intake, tobacco use and a sedentary lifestyle. Race also seems to be a factor; osteoporosis is more common among white and Asian people.
Those who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis should recognize some of these risk factors and begin to take care of themselves at a relatively young age, preferably around their 30s or even their 20s. Women who are approaching menopause should also be on the lookout for symptoms such as back pain, a loss of height over time and an increasingly stooped posture.
Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to avoid osteoporosis. Regular exercises strengthens the bones, especially exercises that work against gravity such as jogging, lifting weights or climbing stairs. Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of exercise two to three times a week.
Avoiding Tobacco and Alcohol
Smoking tobacco increases the rate of bone loss and can make osteoporosis that much worse; as can consuming more than two alcoholic drinks in a day. Alcohol can also make falls – and fractures – that much more likely.
Getting Enough Calcium
Osteoporosis occurs when the bones begin to lose calcium, so including enough calcium in your diet is a great way to prevent bone loss. People between the ages of 18 and 50 should be getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. That amount should increase to 1,200 a day in women over 50 and men over 70. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, soy products, canned fish such as sardines and salmon, orange juice and cereals that have been fortified with calcium. If you find it too difficult to work more of these foods into your diet, consider taking calcium supplements. Just remember that your daily calcium intake should never be higher than 2,000 milligrams a day if you are over 50 years old.
Cutting Down on Caffeine
A moderate daily caffeine intake of around 300 milligrams shouldn’t cause any problems as long as you are getting enough calcium, but too much caffeine can interfere with your bones’ ability to absorb calcium. Limit your intake of coffee, soda, chocolate and any other substances that contain large amounts of caffeine.
It is entirely possible to take good care of yourself and still have a problem with brittle bones as you age. Whether you feel healthy or perpetually unsteady on your feet, it’s best to do what you can to keep yourself from falling. Wear low-heeled shoes with nonskid soles, and try to keep your home free of electrical cords or rugs that could cause you to trip and fall. If you feel unsafe in your own home and think you need some extra help, you can always consider a senior living community. The staff at these communities not only works to prevent falls, but they also try to ensure residents receive enough calcium and exercise to keep them healthy as they age.
Someone suffers an osteoporotic fracture almost every 3 seconds. Don’t let yourself become another statistic – make sure your bones and body are as healthy as possible with help from the caring staff and services at Concordia Lutheran Ministries. With the broadest network of senior care facilities and senior living communities all across Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, our team has helped countless seniors limit the effects of osteoporosis, arthritis and other common senior health conditions. Contact a Concordia location in your area to schedule a tour of our beautiful facilities today!
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