September 21, 2018 April Garner

Why Bone Density Matters

Your bones are comprised of two main substances: collagen and calcium. Calcium provides the hardness bones need to be durable, and collagen makes them flexible enough to absorb impact or stress. Throughout your life, your body deposits minerals that build bone tissue and withdraws them when necessary for use in other parts of the body.

When you’re a child, you build bone faster than your body removes it, but by about age 30, the building of bone drops off, and it’s possible for bone removal to outpace it. While both men and women are susceptible to bone loss, women have an increased risk after menopause, due to hormonal changes.

A bone density test can estimate the density of your bones, telling you if you’re at risk for osteopenia (reduced bone mass of lesser severity than osteoporosis) or osteoporosis. The lower your bone density, the more at risk you are for fracture. People with osteoporosis often experience breakage in the wrist, back or hip.

The problem with breaking a bone as you get older is this: it often leads to loss of independence and reliance on family members or institutional care. And loss of independence and mobility are the biggest concerns for osteoporosis patients, according to a recent Bone Health Index Survey by the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Completely healing from a broken hip when you have osteoporosis can be difficult, and the possibility of having to leave your home to depend on another person can also have mental health consequences.

Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. The best dietary sources of vitamin D and calcium, which support bone growth, are milk, yogurt, cheese, dark leafy green veggies and fortified cereals and juices. A serving of salmon contains 90 percent of your daily dose of vitamin D. Staying active helps, too — brisk walking, dancing, hiking, jogging, etc.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone density test of you…

            • are a woman, 65 or older
            • are a man, 70 or older
            • break a bone after age 50
            • are a women of menopausal age with risk factors
            • are a postmenopausal woman under 65, with risk factors
            • are a man 50-69, with risk factors

Other issues such as significant height loss over the course of a year may also necessitate a bone density test.

Sources: nof.org, niams.nih.gov

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