Osteoporosis is simply bone loss. It is inherent in aging for both men and women, although women are more susceptible to it. Because a woman’s bone density is less than that of a man, this allows more time for the bone to age. The loss of bone mass begins approximately at age 40. After menopause, there is an acceleration of five to seven years at which point it returns to its normal age-related rate.
The absence of estrogen has less to do with bone loss than aging. In fact, smoking, medications, and being underweight have a greater effect on bone loss. That’s why exercise is so important. It increases bone mass. While osteoporosis can lead to loss of height and tiny fractures, woman are also vulnerable to fractures of the hip. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary measures such as proper diet, exercise and vitamins to prevent the loss of bone mass. Further, your doctor may advise you to take a bone density test to determine just how much bone loss has occurred.
The bone density test encompasses taking an X-ray scan which can measure the bone density of your lumbar spine, because the spine is usually the first area to experience loss of bone mass. You probably don’t need a special scan to identify bone loss if you have lost height each year. However, if you have just begun perimenopause or are in the stages of menopause, it may be a good idea to have the test done now.
If after the test you are told your bone loss is minimal, you may decide to do nothing. But it is still important to keep your bones strong and to therefore, you may wish to keep tabs on the progress of bone loss through tests. If, on the other hand, you are told that your rate of bone loss is significant, you may want to take a proactive approach to prevent osteoporosis.
The most effective way to maintain the strength of your bones requires a combination of lifestyle changes and dietary measures, such as: discontinue smoking; exercise 30 minutes a day, three or four days a week; ensure you are following a nutritional diet, with sufficient amounts calcium; exercise caution to prevent falls; and included vitamin D supplements in your dietary regimen.
Clearly, osteoporosis can rear its ugly head at some point. But you can take appropriate action to ensure you are doing everything you can to prevent the onset or, at the very least, stopping its progression.