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Bone structure for seeing importance of bone health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 10 percent of women 50 years of age and older have osteoporosis of the hip. Unfortunately, in most cases, osteoporosis isn’t detected until the patient suffers a “fragility fracture,” due to decreased bone density.

Osteoporosis is a condition affecting bone health that is becoming more common in not only women but men as well. However, women specifically should be just as mindful of this condition as they are of heart disease and cancer.

Cooper Clinic Platinum Preventive Medicine Physician Emily Hebert, MD, explains how to keep your bones strong and healthy.

What is Osteoporosis and How is it Detected?

Osteoporosis refers to the density, or strength, of the bones. From birth to your early 30s, you are building bone density. As you reach your mid-30s, bone density begins to decline. Loss of bone density is inevitable with age, and not something that can be prevented. However, you can slow the decline of bone density, keeping your bones strong and healthy longer.
A bone densitometry scan (Cooper Clinic physicians use the DEXA scan) is most commonly used to measure density of bones in the hips and lumbar spine on a scale. The World Health Organization sets benchmark scores used to indicate osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis) and osteoporosis.

How to Keep Bones Strong and Healthy

Taking steps to keep bones strong and healthy is most important for young adults. It’s when you are young that you can create building blocks for good health. There are two nutrients essential for healthy bones: calcium and vitamin D.

  • Calcium– Premenopausal women should get about 1,200 mg of calcium per day, ideally through diet rather than supplements. Eat foods rich in calcium, such as dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips and collard greens; dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk; soybeans; and enriched grains.There is a common perception that calcium is not healthy. It’s important to remember that calcium is not the enemy. However, our bodies only need a certain amount of calcium to maintain healthy bones. Too much calcium can be unhealthy. If your diet does not provide at least 1,200 mg of calcium, a supplement may be necessary to meet your daily requirements.
  • Vitamin D– Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. With a vitamin D deficiency, your body will not absorb all the calcium it takes in. While the kidneys can convert exposure to natural sunlight to vitamin D, rather than risk sun damage or skin cancer from sun exposure, supplement your nutrition with a vitamin D supplement. Most young adults should get about 25 micrograms (mcg) or 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. The Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplement line includes a standalone vitamin D supplement that contains 25 mcg (1,000 IU) of vitamin D. Next time you see your doctor, request to have your vitamin D levels tested to know if you have a vitamin D deficiency.

Weight-bearing exercise is another component of maintaining healthy bones. Walking, running, playing tennis and weight training are a few examples of exercise that build stronger bones, slowing the decline of bone density. Work with a personal trainer to receive well-directed training and decrease risk of injury.

Lifestyle and Screening Recommendations for Strong Bones

To her female patients over the age of 50 years old, Dr. Hebert recommends daily supplementing their diet with 2,000 IU of vitamin D3. Dr. Hebert suggests this level of vitamin D3 supplementation along with having a calcium-rich diet including yogurt, low-fat milk, green leafy vegetables and cheese. If she sees that her patients are still deficient in calcium, she suggests a calcium citrate supplement, starting at a daily dose of 500-600 mg.

Technological advancements have made many screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible. At Cooper Clinic, we recommend an osteoporosis/bone density scan for women beginning at age 40 and men beginning at age 60. If decreased bone density is detected, talk with your physician about changing your diet to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium and incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your daily routine to slow the progression of osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Click here to shop the entire line of Cooper Complete supplements.

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