You Can Help Prevent Osteoporosis with These Tips

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Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. When the body loses too much bone or makes too little bone–or both–bones become weak and fragile. Osteoporotic bones are lacking in density or mass and they contain abnormal tissue structures. In serious cases, a sneeze or a minor fall can result in broken bones.

You can help protect yourself against osteoporosis and the earlier you begin taking care of your bones, the smaller the chance you’ll end up with this devastating disease.

Health Problems and Medications that Increase Your Risk of Osteoporosis

A number of health problems and medications can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Health problems that increase your risk include autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, digestive, blood, endocrine, and neurological disorders, cancer, and organ diseases.

Medications that increase your risk include antacids containing aluminum, aromatase inhibitors, cancer drugs, some contraceptives, steroids, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

While you can’t change some of the things that increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, there are ways you can reduce your risk.

Exercise strengthens your muscles and cardiovascular system and it also strengthens your bones.
Weight-bearing exercises, which include aerobics, climbing stairs, running, walking, tai chi, and yoga, are great for your bones and may help to keep them strong and dense.

Lift weights.
When you lift weights, your muscles pull on your bones, which helps to strengthen them. Weight lifting also increases your flexibility to help reduce the risk of falls. You don’t have to hit the gym to get your strength training in. Pushups, squats and other exercises that use your body weight are good for working your muscles and you can invest in a set of hand weights to use at home.

Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
If you’re not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, your body will begin breaking down your bones to get the calcium it needs, resulting in loss of bone mass. Get your calcium from low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified foods, sardines, and dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale. Vitamin D comes from sun-exposure but you can also get it in fortified foods like milk and cereal, cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.

Quit smoking.
Smoking interferes with the hormone estrogen in your body and doubles your risk of bone loss. It’s never too late to quit smoking. If you’re having difficulties quitting, talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies, medication, and counseling that can help you kick the habit for good.

Limit alcohol and soda.
Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day is linked to a higher risk of bone loss, so limiting your alcoholic beverages can help protect you against osteoporosis. Likewise, soda can also lead to bone loss due to the high levels of phosphorus that prevent your body from efficiently absorbing calcium.

Worried About Osteoporosis?
Talk to Your Doctor. Your doctor can administer a bone density test to gauge the likelihood of you developing osteoporosis. If you’re at risk, medications are available to help your body build or maintain bone density.
Your doctor can tell you if these medications are right for you.