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Risk Factors and Prevention for Osteoporosis

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020
Osteoporosis, one of the big concerns, for postmenopausal women everywhere. It a common disease of the bones and is defined by a marked diminishing of bone strength. The compromise in the strength of a bone puts those who develop osteoporosis at greater risk for bone fracture.

Managing long-term osteoporosis

Clinically, the progression of osteoporosis is tracked using bone density scans. Managing the long-term risk of bone breakdown and risk of fracture is of the utmost importance in aging. Falls contribute to unintentional injuries and it’s these injuries at becoming a major predictor of longevity and the need for skilled nursing care in older adults. In short, as we age, the higher our risk of fracture, the higher our risk of winding up in pain and needing around the clock care.

Contributors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis

  • Age
  • Female sex
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low bone mineral density
  • Current smoker
  • Long-term use of glucocorticoids
  • Alcohol intake of more than 7 oz daily
  • Low vitamin D

Steps to treat and or prevent osteoporosis

  1. Know your family history! That’s right, get the skinny on your grandma’s sister, your aunt, and your sisters. Family history is an important determinant in managing the risk of osteoporosis (OP) and can be a key indicator as to the importance of getting a regular screening.
  2. Certain genetic variations put individuals at higher risk for OP due to their significantly higher need for vitamin D. More and more research literature support that there is a direct correlation between bone density and serum vitamin D and more importantly a subsequently inverse correlation with bone fractures. Ask your doctor about measuring your serum 25-OH vitamin D.
  3. Good nutrition is the foundation of health and longevity. For osteoporosis, specifically, it is important to mind adequate protein intake, calcium-containing foods, and vitamin C among many other nutrients. It is best to meet nutritional needs through the intake of whole foods.
  4. Of note, not all protein is created equal. The nurse’s health study found that plant protein is particularly helpful in maintaining bone health, while high red meat consumption set up conditions in the body that could lead to bone demineralization. Think of it this way, we know that no matter how strong the facade of a building, acid rain will wear it down over many years. The same holds true for our bones and foods that create an acidic environment.
  5. Physical activity, in particular weight-bearing exercise, is instrumental for bone health. Exercise stimulates the cells that are responsible for laying down new bone in your body.
  6. Avoid refined sugar! Excess refined sugar leads to an increase in the loss of calcium in our body.
  7. The best medicine is preventative medicine. Consider this: soft drinks are high in phosphates and refined sugar. There is evidence to support soft drink consumption in children leads to a decrease in the calcification of growing bones. What does that mean? Soft drinks lead to the kiddos having more fragile bones.

The goal of working with your doctor on bone health are as follows: preserve existing bone mass and density, modify risk factors, and address underlying medical, genetic, environmental, or other factors to ensure long term health.

You can be your own best doctor

Much love, Dr. Jess

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