09. July 2010
Have you thought about your bones lately? They can be easy to forget. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But “them bones” are pretty important if you want to remain upright into your golden years.
Did you know by the time you turn 30 your body starts losing more bone mass than it can create? The news gets even worse for women over 50. Menopause can trigger the first step in bone loss called osteopenia, followed by osteoporosis, the more serious form of bone loss known to cause fractures and debilitation.
It’s estimated half the people in the U.S. over the age of 50 have osteopenia. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you may not be able to completely stop bone loss… but here’s the good news. Whatever your age, you can SLOW bone loss and start building better bones right now! At
No magic bullets. No gimmicks. Just some simple, common sense tips that really work.
Get a DEXA scan
A DEXA scan is a fast, easy, painless test that measures the density of your bones. Generally, the denser your bones are, the stronger they are and less likely to break. A DEXA scan can help determine whether you have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it. The Palomar Health Jean McLaughlin Women’s Center offers DEXA scans, using the advanced GE Healthcare Lunar iDXA™ - delivering crisp, high-definition images of all skeletal sites. For more information: 858.613.6120
Keep up the calcium
Start with dairy products. Choose low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese. Other sources include calcium-fortified cereals or fruit juices, beans, tofu, leafy, green vegetables, almonds and canned pink salmon and sardines with bones. Adults younger than 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily; after age 50, you should get at least 1,200 mg daily. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, take a calcium supplement.
Add vitamin D
Very few foods contain vitamin D naturally, but this bone-critical nutrient is added to milk in the U.S. Vitamin D is included in most calcium supplements and can be taken alone as a supplement. (15 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight also provides a healthy dose of vitamin D) Your doctor can do a blood test to determine if you’re getting enough of this vital vitamin.
Bones get stronger in response to stress… so exercise is critical for bone health. Focus on weight-bearing exercises such as weight training, walking and running.
Watch what you drink
Avoid carbonated beverages and limit alcohol intake to less than 3 drinks a day.
Monitor your medication
Long-term use of some medications can increase the risk of osteoporosis. These include corticosteroids and anticonvulsants.
Skip the smoke
This may be a big “duh!” But along with all the other health risks associated with smoking, you can include osteoporosis. (Thanks to “Everyday Health.”)
While your bones may be out of sight… they should never be out of mind. Start YOUR bone-healthy lifestyle and make sure your “hip bone’s” connected to the thigh bone……” for years to come!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.