What is Osteopenia?

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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.

If your doctor told you, you have osteopenia, you may be wondering just what that means? Osteopenia means your bone mineral density (BMD) is lower than normal, but it is not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis, and BMD is the mineral measurement that indicates the strength of your bones. A diagnosis of osteopenia also means you have a greater chance—as time passes—of developing osteoporosis, but it doesn’t mean you are doomed to get it.

Although women are more prone towards osteopenia and osteoporosis than men, men can also get the disease. The following factors lead to osteopenia:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Eating disorders or metabolism problems where the body either cannot take in or cannot use vitamins and minerals properly
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Medications—such as steroids or anticonvulsants

Other factors such as a family history of osteoporosis, being thin, being white or Asian, being sedentary, smoking, or drinking soft drinks or excessive amounts of alcohol regularly, also increases your risk. To learn more about what you can do to prevent osteoporosis read Bone Builders to Avoid OsteoporosisWays to Avoid Osteoporosis: What To Do and What Not To Do, and Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

1 Comment

  1. How ironic, Geri, you wrote this article at the time I was diagnosed with mild osteopaenia – a direct result of taking corticosteroids over several periods of time for an inflammatory bowel disease. I was very interested to read your list about nutrients for strong bones – thanks!

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