The skeletal system provides structure to our bodies and help to protects its vital organs. It also helps the body store calcium and other nutrients and minerals the body requires. Bone health is determined by bone density, or the amount of mineral matter per square centimeter of bone. It is often used as a direct indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk in adults and adolescents alike. Osteopenia is classified as having a lower bone density, whereas osteoporosis is having porous, or weakened and fragile bone structure. Maintenance of bone health at every age is a key factor to provide the best quality of life possible, and it is much easier to do than one might think.
Most people will finish reaching their maximal bone mass at around age thirty. Resorption and formation, or the break down and rebuilding of bone, will continue well after age thirty. Loss of bone density occurs when old bone is broken down faster than new bone is made. Better bone density prior to age 30 decreases the risk of developing osteopenia, osteoporosis, and can reduce fragility fractures in the future. It is estimated that osteoporosis is the cause of nearly two million broken bones and $19 million in health care costs each year. Bone health education and management is key to preventing fractures in high risk populations.
What Affects Bone Health?
Low nutrient enriched diet
- Adults ages 19-50 and men ages 51-70 are recommended to intake 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Women older than 50 and men older than 70 should increase their daily dosage to 1,200 mg daily.
- Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium in the body. Adults ages 19-50 should have an intake of 600 international units daily, and that recommendation increases to 1000 international units daily for adults over the age of 50.
- Bones respond to exercise to become stronger. Incorporating weight bearing exercises 3 days a week for 30-45 minute increments increases the strength of the bones and surrounding musculature to help prevent falls and fractures.
Tobacco and alcohol use
- Tobacco is clinically proven to contribute to weak bones and delayed union of fractures. Smoking cessation programs are available locally and nationwide.
- Alcohol use can directly interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Typically, the rate of more than two alcoholic drinks daily significantly decreases calcium absorption in the body.
Age, Gender, and Family History
- Post-menopausal women are at nearly a 70% greater risk of developing osteoporosis than males of a similar age. Dropping estrogen levels in post-menopausal women causes a dramatic increase in bone loss. In men, low testosterone levels can contribute to a loss of bone mass.
- Men and woman with a Body Mass Index of 19 are at greater risk because of the decreased bone mass to draw from as they age.
- Family history of fractures of osteoporosis also is a risk factor.
Bone Health Clinic
Kansas City Bone and Joint Clinic offers Bone Health Education appointments to those interested in learning how to maintain proper bone health. Three mid-level providers, along with Dr. Atul Patel, are highly trained in Bone Health education. He and his team offer management and treatment options for osteoporosis and osteopenia. To help facilitate the best care, a DEXA scan, a Basic Metabolic Panel, and a Vitamin D panel could be ordered by your primary care physician or referring doctor prior to your meeting with the team here at Kansas City Bone and Joint Clinic.
For more specific information, please check with your provider.
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