How to Start Your Osteoporosis Prevention Plan Today

6 ways to jump-start your personal osteoporosis prevention plan.

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Osteoporosis is one of today's most preventable diseases. Even if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are steps you can take—with your doctor's guidance—to help control this bone disease from silently progressing. SpineUniverse urges you to discuss the osteoporosis risk factors with your doctor. Together, you can map out a plan to improve your overall health and reduce your chance of osteoporosis leading to a fracture in your spine or other bones.

stages of osteoprosis in boneOsteoporosis progresses slowly and silently. Some people learn they have low bone mineral density and osteoporosis only after they fracture a bone or experience a vertebral compression fracture. Photo Source: 123RF.com.

1. Know Your Risks, Talk With Your Doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your osteoporosis risk factors. Whether you are a woman or man, if you are 40 years old or older, take time to review the list of potential risk factors to discuss with your doctor. Your responses can help prepare you for this important discussion about your health and healthcare.

Are you at risk for osteoporosis? Review this list of osteoporosis risk factors.

  • I've had a bone fracture as an adult (eg, wrist, hip, spine).
  • There is a history of osteoporosis in my family (eg, mother, sister, father).
  • I am Causasian or Asian.
  • My body is a small frame.
  • I am thin and/or frail.
  • I do not regularly exercise.
  • I use tobacco and/or smoke.
  • Alcohol consumption: I drink 3 or more times each week, and sometimes drink many alcoholic beverages at one time.
  • My diet doesn't include much calcium (eg, milk, yogurt) or vitamin D (eg, cheese, egg yolks).
  • Occasionally, I "crash diet".
  • I've have or had an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, purging, bulimia nervosa.
  • I have used or currently use corticosteroids and/or anti-convulsant medications.
  • Experience occasional falls and/or feel less stable on my feet.
  • Women only: I am age 45 or younger, and menopause has begun, or I am age 50 or older, and post-menopausal.
  • Men only: My doctor has diagnosed me as having a low testosterone level.

2. Learn Your T-score

A bone mineral density (BMD) is the most reliable way to predict and detect osteoporosis. This painless test takes little time to complete. This test will reveal your T-score; a number used to help predict and detect osteoporosis. Ask your doctor if it's time for a bone mineral density test.

3. Exercise to Build Bone Mass

Include weight-bearing and resistance exercise in your regular workout.

What is the difference between weight-bearing and resistance exercises? Weight-bearing exercises use bone and muscle to work against gravity. For example, when you walk, jog, dance or play volleyball you are doing weight-bearing exercise. Weight lifting or using free weights are examples of resistance exercise. Here you use your muscular strength that helps build bone mass and strengthens muscles too.

A Word of Caution:

Whether you currently exercise regularly or not, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor is happy to recommend a safe exercise program to benefit your health.

4. Eat a Calcium and Vitamin D Rich Diet

You are what you eat! If you don't take the time to nourish your body properly, your health will suffer. Although calcium and vitamin D cannot fully prevent or cure osteoporosis, it is critical to include the right amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet everyday. Even if you are lactose intolerant, there are many fortified food products such as orange juice and cereal to help you meet daily mineral requirements.

To help you better understand the best foods for bone health, take the SpineUniverse Osteoporosis Food Quiz. It covers the best and worst foods for your bones.

Besides food sources, there are varied brands and types of supplements available to help boost your calcium and vitamin D intake. Talk to your doctor about how much calcium and vitamin D you need every day. Remember that taking too much of a good thing is not being health wise. Overdosing on supplements can make you sick. Don't navigate the supplement aisle alone! Ask your doctor or health care professional for product and dosing recommendations.

Diet Tip: Registered Dietitians (RDs) can help you learn how to make wise food and supplement choices. Your doctor can aid you in finding an RD in your area.

5. So Many Reasons to Stop Smoking

Smoking affects almost every organ in your body! If decreasing your risk of cancer, heart, and lung disease is not enough incentive, osteoporosis should be! Simply put—smoking increases your risk for osteoporosis. Why? Because smoking interferes with your body's capacity to absorb calcium and may lower the hormones your body needs to build and preserve bone mass.

6. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

"Everything in moderation" is a common expression. Excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks causes poor nutrition. In turn, poor nutrition causes bone density to decline, leading to osteoporosis. Plus, alcohol increases the risk of falling. Falls are a leading cause of spinal and other bone fractures.

Updated on: 04/26/19
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Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: Is There a Difference?
Isador H. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FRCSC
Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgeon
Texas Back Institute
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