Osteoporosis is a disease that makes bones fragile and more likely to break. Bone breaks are serious health issues that could happen during a hearty sneeze or a tight hug.
Whether you’re 20, 40 or 60, you should have bone health on your mind. To prevent osteoporosis or reverse its ravages, follow these five simple steps recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF):
Step One: Talk to your doctor
To learn more about osteoporosis, speak with your primary care physician. Good questions to ask include: Am I at risk for osteoporosis based on my medical history, lifestyle and family background? Am I taking medication that puts me at higher risk for developing osteoporosis? How do I best prevent (or treat) osteoporosis?
Step Two: Kick the sticks — and three-martini dinners
“Smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease,” says Mark Senn, senior director of LifeFit Wellness Services. The good news is that if you stop smoking, within five years, your risk can return to that of a lifelong nonsmoker. And while studies suggest a glass or two of red wine per day may have health benefits, tipping the bottle more puts you at increased risk for osteoporosis.
Step Three: Step on it
While physical fitness makes your muscles bigger and stronger, it also makes your bones stronger and denser. The NOF recommends two types of exercises: weight-bearing impact exercise and resistance/strengthening exercise.
Step Four: Take your vitamins
You likely know calcium is important to building strong bones, but so is vitamin D. Yet almost every one of us misses the vitamin D mark unless we regularly consume vitamin D-fortified dairy and fish. Dr. Charles Sevastos recommends that women 50 and younger consume 1,000 mg daily while those over the age of 50 should increase the amount to 1,200 mg.
Step 5: See if your bones pass the test
The only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for fracture is a bone density test. The test uses special X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. A higher mineral content means your bones are denser and less likely to break.
Want an accurate picture of your bone health? Bone density testing is offered at the Women’s Imaging Center in Beaufort and Bluffton Medical Services in Westbury Park. To make an appointment, call 843-522-5015.