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Osteoporosis: A Bone Rattling Disease

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There is a growing trend in being healthy – making healthier choices, staying active, and eating organic foods. You probably notice that your friends and family members, and perhaps yourself, are making more choices to lower the risks of heart disease, strokes, and cancers. But what about preventing osteoporosis? What does this condition entail, and how can it be prevented?

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that attacks bone mass. It causes bones to become weak and brittle, and makes it easier for bones to break from even the simplest of actions because the bones are fragile and porous. For example, a minor fall could result a fracture if osteoporosis is an issue. The spine, hips, and wrists are all areas that are especially prone to fractures from falls or bumps into furniture.

Who is at risk?

While juvenile osteoporosis does exist, the condition is generally more likely to affect individuals over the age of fifty who have a family history present. Older individuals who are especially thin are also more susceptible, along with postmenopausal women. About half of all Americans over the age of fifty suffer from osteoporosis, and about 80 percent are female.

Although some risk factors are uncontrollable, there are many lifestyle choices that can be made to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Meeting the daily recommend amounts of calcium and vitamin D through diet or supplements can help strengthen your bones, and avoiding sodium, caffeine, and tobacco can help as well.

How is osteoporosis detected?

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Many people don’t realize that they have it until a bone fracture actually occurs. Other than fractures, those with osteoporosis may experience frequent back pain or notice a diminished height or “stooped” posture.

Can osteoporosis be cured?

The condition itself cannot be cured, but there are certain medications and lifestyle choices that can relieve symptoms and prevent future bone fractures by improving bone strength. For example, various weight bearing exercises and activities that strengthen muscle mass will also strengthen the bones. Aerobics and resistance exercises are good choices for individuals with osteoporosis, as long as these activities are approved by a doctor.

A combination of vitamin D and calcium supplements are thought to improve bone strength, and vitamin K may also strengthen bone structure in postmenopausal women. However, more research is needed to know for sure which supplements or medications are beneficial.