Why Bone Health Is Important and How to Improve It
Why Bone Health Matters
We all need strong bones to keep us on our feet (literally) and standing up straight. Healthy bones also allow us to move, protect our vital organs and store nutrients and minerals that keep us alive. Without bone health, individuals are at greater risk for pain and fractures that can lead to other serious physical conditions including limited mobility.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis (meaning “porous bone”) is the most common form of bone disease. It involves low bone mass and structural loss of bone tissue. Bones become depleted of minerals including calcium, making them very fragile and prone to fractures. The majority of breaks occur in the hip, forearm, wrist and spine. Osteoporosis affects both men and women. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, it is estimated that 54 million people have osteoporosis or are at high risk for fractures due to low bone mass.
Who is at risk?
Osteoporosis is more common in women, but men are also at risk. One study suggests that one in two women and up to one in four men aged 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
People at greatest risk for osteoporosis include:
- Caucasian women
- Asian women
- Those with an older family member who has had fractures
- People who have had illnesses or been on medications that can weaken their bones
- People who are underweight
Steps You Can Take to Improve Bone Health
- Eat foods high in calcium, such as milk, oatmeal, calcium-fortified orange juice, cheddar cheese, soybeans, plain yogurt, broccoli, turnip greens, calcium-fortified cereal, cottage cheese, vanilla frozen yogurt and baked beans.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as vitamin D-fortified milk or juice.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day and do weight-bearing activities such as strength training and walking.
- Maintain a healthy weight – being underweight can increase risk of bone loss and fractures.
- If needed, your doctor or endocrinologist may prescribe medication to prevent bone loss and/or promote bone growth.
If you think you may be at risk, talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test. To find a doctor or specialist, complete the form on this page.