When new bone is unable to replace the old bone quickly enough, osteoporosis occurs. When it does occur, it will cause the bones to become very weak, making the smallest movement may cause a fracture. Approximately ten million Americans currently suffer from osteoporosis, with another 34 million combatting low bone mass, also known as osteopenia. Since bone is a living tissue that is being absorbed and replaced by the body, it is important to know what factors can cause bone loss, and how to prevent it.
Causes of Osteoporosis
During your early twenties, bone density is at its peak. After this, however, you begin to lose bone mass. A small amount is normal, but for those suffering from osteoporosis, there will be a large discrepancy between the bone that is broken down and the bone that is replacing it. As a result of this discrepancy, people become more prone to fractures and even break bones when they go through osteoporosis ages.
- Men. A man’s body actually converts testosterone into estrogen in order to preserve the health of the bones, which is why if a male is at risk of osteoporosis, the doctor will first assess his testosterone levels.
- Women. Estrogen deficiency is actually one of the most common causes of osteoporosis in women. In direct correlation with age, postmenopausal women are much more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. Additionally, young athletes or anorexic women who stop menstruating will put their bone density at risk. Lastly, if a women has her ovaries surgically removed, which will drop the amount of estrogen in her system, it may also cause an earlier onset of osteoporosis, or a worsening of the condition.
3. Hormone Levels
While testosterone and estrogen are vital hormones for bone health, they are not the only contributing factor. Other hormones needed include the parathyroid and growth hormone. If you have too much of the parathyroid hormone, calcium will be expelled through urine. Additionally, your body produces less growth hormone as you are older, making calcium increasingly important.
Another hormone level that can cause osteoporosis is thyroid condition. For those taking a high thyroid hormone dose, they are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
4. Dietary Factors
- Calcium. Calcium is the essential element that bones use to repair and replace themselves. As such, without the proper levels of calcium in the system, the body will be unable to continue creating bone as needed, leaving the bones frail and susceptible to breaking. Furthermore, calcium is stored in the bone and then used by almost all of the body’s vital organs.
- Vitamin D. Getting plenty of calcium is a great goal, but if the body does not have the appropriate level of vitamin D, it will never be able to absorb or use the calcium efficiently.
5. Medical Drugs and Conditions
Some people need to take certain medications for other ailments. Unfortunately, some of these necessary medications can cause damage to the bones, thus causing osteoporosis. For example, some drugs used to treat asthma and arthritis can cause bone loss and/or fractures.
In addition to medications, certain conditions such as cystic fibrosis, or multiple myeloma, can cause abnormal calcium excretion that eventually leads to bone loss. People with these diseases tend to lose calcium through urine rather than hold in the bones.
- Sedentary lifestyle. When a body is constantly at rest, it has no way to strengthen the bones. For some, they may have no option due to other conditions. If this is the case, be sure to discuss your options with a doctor. For others who are sedentary simply because they either do not like to exercise or simply do not want to, maintaining an appropriate exercise regimen can actually help remodel the bones, especially through weight training.
- Smoking. Everyone knows the dangers smoking leads to both their own health and that of those around. The nicotine actually blocks the body from absorbing the estrogen, vitamin D and calcium it needs for strong, healthy bones, causing lower bone density and a high fracture risk. Since nicotine is addictive in nature, it is better to never start smoking.
- Alcohol. Even if you are only tipsy, alcohol may cause you to fall over and lead to a break for those with osteoporosis. This occurs because the alcohol itself can actually halt the remodeling of the bone as well as cause further calcium loss. However, one glass of alcohol a day should not cause any long-lasting ill effects.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Despite many dangers of this disease, a person’s bone health is still largely in their control. First, getting your body enough calcium and vitamin D is one of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis. By adding these two nutrients in with proper exercise, you have created a recipe for success. In order to get enough calcium, you will want to add such things as dairy products, dark green vegetables, and even soy products. Along with these, you should add the exposure to the sun. If you feel you are still not getting enough nutrients, find a calcium supplement that is combined with vitamin D to take daily.
Remember that even if you are doing the right things to prevent osteoporosis, a few wrong choices can still put you at risk. For example, having nights of heavy drinking over a period of time will halt the bone growth process. Smoking will do the same by blocking the necessary hormones and ingredients from reaching your bones. Unfortunately, even if you have done everything properly, you may still suffer from osteoporosis. If this is the case, you will want to find ways to avoid falling, such as high-heeled shoes, cords or even slippery surfaces. For those who have taken all of these precautions and still feel prone to fractures, be sure to discuss all of your options with a doctor.
The video explains the cause of osteoporosis in detail: