May marks National Osteoporosis Month. Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone mass or density, pacing them at risk for developing osteoporosis.

Protect your bone health to prevent osteoporosis

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May marks National Osteoporosis Month. Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone mass or density, pacing them at risk for developing osteoporosis. One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease because you cannot feel your bones weakening and becoming more fragile and porous. You may not know you have it until you fracture or break a bone.

Prevention begins young. Active bone building is in childhood and the teen years. The peak bone mass is in early 20’.

Building strong bones requires several ingredients:

  • A well-balanced diet that includes protein, potassium from fruits and vegetables, magnesium from nuts and legumes, and calcium from dairy foods and green leafy vegetables.
  • The sunshine vitamin: vitamin D.
  • Daily physical activity.

How well and firm bones grow in childhood will, in part, determine if there will be bone problems later in life. We do not want bone problems. A hip fracture at age 75 might result in an extended rehab stay and depending upon recovery and healing of the hip, that person may not be able to return to independent living in their home. And 20 percent of seniors who break a hip will die within one year from other complications.

There are other factors that will impact bone health later in life including smoking and excessive alcohol intake. But the years before age 20 are the most critical for building strong bones; adulthood is all about maintenance of those strong bones.

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.