Osteoporosis: Avoid Brittle Bones, Bend it Like Beckham

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Image on the left shows spinal column at 10 years post menopause. Center image shows changes at 15 years post menopause. Image on the right shows spinal loss at 25 years post menopause.

Osteoporosis, which creates thin and brittle bones, affects almost 44 million people, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). To avoid the disease, you have to think about it when you’re young, and you should be bending it like David Beckham with exercise. If you want to avoid the spinal changes shown in the illustration on the right, the NOF recommends the following:

Teenagers. The teenage years are when people can increase their bone density, so it is a vital you do what you can when you are a teenager to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Everyone under 19 years old needs a diet rich in calcium, 1300 mg of calcium to be exact. Calcium sources include low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. To better absorb calcium, teenagers also need to take at least 200 IU of vitamin D, and they need to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is another important component to stave off osteoporosis. It should last for thirty minutes and should include weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, jumping, or aerobics.

Middle Years Between 20 and 40. During the middle years, the NOF recommends people take at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. They should also supplement their calcium intake with 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D. If a person is falling short on their calcium intake, they can take supplements, but remember it is better to get calcium from natural sources during this time period. Just like teens, people in their middle years also need to exercise for thirty minutes each day, and they should include weight-bearing exercises in every workout and do strength training exercises twice per week.

50 and Older. Once you reach 50, the NOF recommends you get 1,200 mg of calcium daily, as well as 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D. They also recommend thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercises daily, and lifting weights is one of the best things you can do for yourself after you reach fifty to avoid bone loss.

To know if you are at risk for osteoporosis, check this list:

  • Advanced Age
  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods)
  • Asian or Caucasian
  • Female
  • Fractures in adulthood
  • History of osteoporosis within your family
  • Male with low testosterone levels
  • Osteopenia (low bone mass)
  • Physically inactive
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoke
  • Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
  • Under weight and thinned framed

If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, speak to your doctor and ask for a bone screening density test. In certain instances, prescriptions can help prevent or treat osteoporosis. In addition, there are things you can do to improve your bone density, such as diet and exercise. To learn more read Ways to Avoid Osteoporosis: What To Do and What Not To Do.

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