Healthy Bones - Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis

Posted at 12:44 PM on May 4, 2023

Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis

Growing up, we have all heard to drink milk daily to help keep our bones healthy and strong. Well, there is a reason why we all have heard this because it's true! Milk contains high calcium levels, an essential mineral for building and keeping strong, healthy bones.

Not only do we need calcium for strong bones, but vitamin D is also essential to prevent conditions like osteoporosis. Getting out in the sun is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin D!

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures. It is most commonly seen in older adults, particularly women, after menopause.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often called a "silent disease" because it typically does not cause noticeable symptoms until a bone is fractured or a noticeable loss of height occurs. Symptoms may include:

  • Back pain, often described as sharp or stabbing
  • Loss of height
  • Stooped posture, also known as kyphosis
  • Fractures, especially in the hips, spine, and wrists.

Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis

There are steps you can take to help prevent or decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis, such as:

Calcium and Vitamin D

As mentioned above, calcium is an essential nutrient that helps build strong bones, and Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. It is recommended that adults get 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day and 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D per day. 

Foods high in calcium:

  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Leafy greens
  • Tofu
  • Foods fortified with calcium, like; orange juice, soy milk, and breakfast cereals
  • Fatty fishes like salmon and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds

Foods high in vitamin D:

  • Egg yolks
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, including milk, orange juice, cereal, and yogurt
  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Mushrooms
  • Beef liver

It's important to note that most people get their vitamin D from sun exposure. The body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to UV light. However, skin color, age, and geography can affect the amount of vitamin D produced through sun exposure.

In addition to diet, you may consider the following to prevent your risk of developing osteoporosis:

  • Regular weight-bearing exercise - Walking, jogging, and weightlifting can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Hormone replacement therapy - Women who have gone through menopause may benefit from hormone replacement therapy, which can help maintain bone density.

Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your treatment options may include the following:

  • Several medications are available to treat osteoporosis, including bisphosphonates, denosumab, and teriparatide. These medications work by either slowing down bone loss or increasing bone formation.
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements - If a person is not getting enough calcium and vitamin D through their diet, supplements may be recommended by their doctor.
  • Regular exercise can help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Fall prevention - Since fractures are a significant concern for people with osteoporosis, measures to prevent falls, such as removing tripping hazards and installing handrails, can be helpful.

Talk to Your Doctor

No matter your age, it is never too early or late to begin discussing osteoporosis prevention and overall healthy aging. If you suspect you may be at risk or experiencing symptoms, now is the time to schedule your visit to talk to your doctor. Remember, most diseases are far more treatable when caught early.