May 12-18, 2o13 is National Women's Health Week and the entire month of May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention month. Since osteoporosis is such an important topic for senior women, this is the ideal time to help our community understand a bit more about this all too common disorder.
1. What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It occurs when your body loses too much bone mass, makes too little new bone cells, or both. Bones become weak and can break from a minor fall or, in the most advanced cases, even from simple acts like sneezing or bumping into a chair.
2. Who does it affect?
Around 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. About 34 million are at risk for the disease. About half of all senior women older than 50, and up to one in four men, will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
3. What are the risk factors?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, risk factors are broken into those that are controllable and those that are uncontrollable.
Uncontrollable risk factors include:
- Being older than age 50
- Being Female
- Family History
- Low Body Weight or being of a small frame or very thin
- Frequent Broken Bones
- Loss of Height
Controllable risk factors include:
- Not consuming enough Calcium & Vitamin D
- Not eating enough fruits or vegetables
- Eating too much protein, sodium & caffeine
- Being inactive
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Losing too much weight
4. What can I do to prevent Osteoporosis?
A quick look at the controllable risk factors will probably give you a quick hint. If you'd rather just read on, here are the top ways to help prevent Osteoporosis. Of course, the younger you start, the better!
- Women over 50... ingest at least 1,200 mg of calcium per day, ideally from your well-balanced diet, but supplements can provide some portion if necessary
- Women over 50... get 800-1000 units of Vitamin D per day. Besides food and supplements, your skin makes Vitamin D while you are out in the sun. Be careful not to overdo it, though!
- Eating just about any fruits and vegetables is likely to help enhance bone health
- Weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercise. If you decide to start a new exercise regimen, consult your doctor first.
5. What can I do if I already have Osteoporosis?
If you have been recently diagnosed, you will want far more information that I can give you in this short article. Live with Osteoporosis is an excellent resource from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The good news is that the name says it all... you can live with osteoporosis!
Like lists? The National Osteoporosis Foundation website discusses the Top 10 Myths about Osteoporosis.