Bone Up On Healthy Bones

“When you think about staying healthy, you may think about making lifestyle changes to prevent conditions like cancer or heart disease. Keeping bones healthy may not be at the top of your list but it should be”, says ob/gyn Eumena M. Divino, MD, FACOG, and here’s why …

Roughly 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 34 million are at risk, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Bone is living tissue, which is constantly being absorbed and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.

Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. Some people lose height and become shorter. Broken bones can cause severe pain that does not go away and can keep you from getting around easily and doing the things you enjoy. This can make people – especially older adults – feel isolated and depressed. It can also lead to other health problems.

Who’s at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women — especially those past menopause — are at highest risk. Osteoporosis can affect people of all ages but is far more common in older adults. A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that there is a strong hereditary factor for osteoporosis from mothers to daughters. It’s never too soon to focus on building healthy bones. Eighty-five percent of adult bone mass is acquired in girls by age 18 and in boys by age 20.  

You can’t feel yourself getting osteoporosis, but a simple, painless bone mineral density scan can tell if you have osteoporosis. Medications, dietary supplements and weightbearing exercise can help strengthen your bones. “Get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day from low-fat dairy and take a multi with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium,” Dr. Divino says. “At the gym, hit the free weights along with the treadmill. Bones get stronger in response to force, and strength-training can target areas like the shoulders, spine, and wrists,” she says.

“Whatever your age,” says Dr. Divino, “the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life. Now is the time to take action.”

To schedule a bone density scan at Raritan Bay Medical Center, please call 732-324-5270