What is Osteoporosis?

October 18, 2018

Osteoporosis is something you hear a lot about, either in the news, from your doctor, or in conversation with family and friends. But what is osteoporosis and why should you care about it?

To help understand osteoporosis, it is important to know that your bones are living tissue that is constantly undergoing change. Your body is regularly absorbing and remaking bone to keep your bones healthy and strong.

Your bones are at their strongest in your 20s. After the age of about 35, bones begin to naturally weaken. [1] This is because the body breaks down bone quicker than it rebuilds it, causing bones to gradually become weaker. If this occurs excessively, osteoporosis will develop, putting you at risk of fracturing a bone.

Osteoporosis doesn’t tend to have any symptoms. This means that most people aren’t aware that they have it until they break a bone, usually without really having an injury. In more extreme cases, people may have bone pain, develop a stoop, or lose some of their original height. The good news is that osteoporosis can be diagnosed and treated before you break a bone. Bone fractures can often be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices and medication, which is why it is important to be aware of this disease.

While knowing about osteoporosis is great, knowing how to prevent it is even better. By investing in your bone health early in life you can help reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis later in life. Here are a few tips to keep your bones strong and healthy: [2,3,4]

  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Make sure to regularly get at least 1000 mg of calcium a day
  • Get 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D a day
  • Participate in regular weight-bearing exercise
  • Don’t smoke and try to avoid second-hand smoke
  • Avoid heavy drinking

To determine if you are at risk for osteoporosis, you need to talk to your doctor. Only they can decide if you would benefit from a bone density test to check the strength of your bones.

  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis. https://www.iofbonehealth.org/osteoporosis. Accessed August 28, 2018.
  2. International Osteoporosis Foundation. Preventing osteoporosis. https://www.iofbonehealth.org/preventing-osteoporosis. Accessed August 28, 2018.
  3. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D: Fact sheet for health professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Updated March 2, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.
  4. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium: Fact sheet for health professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/. Updated March 2, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.
Tags: bone, calcium, elderly, senior, sun, teeth, vitamin D