Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and increased risk of fractures.
For both men and women, bone health begins at a very young age. The majority of bone mass develops during childhood and adolescence, and by the age of 20, all bones are completely done forming.
Good nutrition plays a key role in building and keeping bones strong. Calcium and vitamin D are the major nutrients for making bones hard and healthy. Eating calcium-rich foods and getting enough vitamin D is essential to ensure your bone health for life.
Weight-bearing exercise also is essential for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Your goal should be to build up your calcium stores early in life, then maintain that level to later minimize the loss that comes with age.
Are Men Over 50 at Risk for Osteoporosis?
While the incidence of osteoporosis is higher among women, more than 2 million American men suffer from osteoporosis. One in four men age 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime therefore it is never too late to build strong bones. As you get older, the amount of minerals in your bones decreases. If you lose too much calcium, you may develop osteoporosis. You can however take steps now to prevent osteoporosis and minimize your risk for bone fractures later on.
Weight-bearing activities benefit bone health. Examples of such activities would be:
- weight lifting
- and volleyball
This type of exercise is important since they trigger bone tissue formation.
But exercise alone is not enough. You need to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods. Experts agree that good nutrition can reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis. At least three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are especially good sources of calcium. Other great choices include soy beverages and tofu, leafy dark green vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach. Calcium-fortified foods such as cereals or juice can be good sources as well.
What about Calcium Supplements?
Ask your doctor or registered dietitian if you would benefit from a calcium supplement.
Bone Density Testing
Bone density testing is strongly recommended if you are:
- A post-menopausal woman and not taking hormones
- A man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss
- Following therapeutic response to medications being used to treat osteoporosis
- Using medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs
- Have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism
- Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma, have had an x-ray with evidence of vertebral fracture and/or other signs of osteoporosis