By Jennifer Kohler, MS, FNP-BC, CLC
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder defined by low bone mass, increased fragility of bones, and increased fracture risk. It is influenced by hormones, genetics, metabolic, mechanical, and immunological factors. Bone mass peaks around 30 years old, and then begins to decline after 40-50 years of age. There is bone repair and renewal that occurs in later life, but there are many factors that continue to affect this. The best way to decrease the risk of bone loss is prevention and minimizing factors that increase fracture loss.
Some easy ways to increase prevention are making sure your vitamin D level is optimal, following an anti-inflammatory diet, adequate calcium intake, adequate protein intake, Omega 3 fatty acids, and adequate magnesium intake.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and deficiency is very common in North America. In fact, almost half of our population is deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D activates the transport of calcium and stimulated the absorption of vital minerals such as magnesium and phosphate and works with vitamin K to cause bone mineralization.
We know that inflammation is a huge factor in affecting many processes of our body, and bone health is another one as it affects collagen production in osteoblasts and causes the breakdown of the extracellular matrix. An Anti-Inflammatory diet includes healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, cold water ocean fish, avocados, and nuts. Use anti-inflammatory spices/herbs such as turmeric, ginger, and rosemary, and drink green tea. Choose carbs that are whole grain, but have a low glycemic load (rolled oats, quinoa), in addition to decreasing your intake of partially hydrogenated oils and saturated animal fats.
Exercise and calcium intake are two other important factors in prevention. Calcium recommendations range from 1,000 mg – 1,300 mg for women depending on age. Remember osteoporosis is much more common in women than in men due to hormonal changes particularly after menopause the fact that women’s bones in general are thinner, lighter, and smaller. If your dietary intake of calcium is not adequate consider a supplement of either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. They both have different benefits depending upon a person’s factors such as other meds, cost, and absorption.
Exercise helps with bone building and preserving muscle mass which is an important factor in bone density. Aim for 30-45 minutes of exercise daily and alternate between some weight training and aerobic exercise for the best benefit.