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5 ways to prevent osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a serious condition which is often overlooked until it is too late. The disease, characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, is very common. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10.2 million American adults have osteoporosis and another 43.3 million have low bone mass.

"It causes over 700,000 vertebral fractures and 300,000 hip fractures per year," says Rattandeep Singh, M.D., a rheumatologist at Piedmont Hospital.

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to prevent osteoporosis and strengthen and improve the health of your bones. Take a look at these five easy steps.

How to prevent osteoporosis

1. Get the calcium and vitamin D you need every day. Calcium is important for building bone strength, but most Americans don’t get the required daily amount. Eating calcium-rich food is the best way to get calcium, or you can take calcium supplements.  Vitamin D is important for protecting bones, and your body also requires it to absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D by getting enough sunlight, eating vitamin D-rich foods or taking supplements.

2. Do regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing exercises like dancing, hiking, walking on the treadmill or low-impact aerobics help build bones and keep them strong.  Muscle-strengthening exercises like lifting weights or even yoga and Pilates can help improve bone strength, balance and flexibility.

3. Eat foods that are good for bone health.  Dairy products, dark leafy greens and fortified juices and cereals are excellent sources of calcium. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are a great source of vitamin D. And sweet potatoes, tomato products and artichokes are a great source of magnesium.

4. Don't smoke and don't drink too much alcohol. Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for osteoporosis. Some studies have shown a relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. You should also limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 to 3 drinks a day, because drinking heavily can lead to bone loss.

5. Talk to your healthcare provider about your chance of getting osteoporosis, and ask when you have a bone density test. Dr. Singh suggests a bone mineral density scan, or DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, for the following:

  • Women age 65 years and older
  • Postmenopausal women younger than 65 years with risk factors
  • Men 70 years or older
  • Men younger than 70 years with risk factors
  • Adults with a fragility fracture
  • Adults with a condition, disease or medication associated with low bone density or bone loss

"If our body is a house, then our bones are its foundation," Dr. Singh says. "We need to take care of our bones, and then our bones will take care of us."

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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