Just like many of the women in my family, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my 40s, relatively young to have the condition.
About 10 percent of women have osteoporosis at age 50, but as a woman ages, the risk goes up. One in two women are at risk for fractures caused by osteoporosis in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In my family, women seem to have bone health issues at an early age. Although osteoporosis doesn’t go away, I know I can keep my bones healthier by exercising. I don’t smoke, and I eat foods rich in calcium. I also take calcium supplements and medication.
The most important thing I have learned is that prevention of osteoporosis begins long before being diagnosed. The young girls and women in my family should be taking steps now to prevent osteoporosis later.
Until about age 30, bones are usually larger, stronger and denser because new bone is formed faster than old bone is broken down.
That means your bones are forming while you are young. Eating foods rich in calcium and exercising while your bones are forming gives you a higher bone mass and stronger bones, which helps your bones stay healthier as your age.
There are some osteoporosis risk factors you can’t change. Those include:
- Gender: Women get osteoporosis more often than men
- Age: The older you are, the greater your risk
- Body size: Small, thin women are at greater risk
- Ethnicity: Caucasian and Asian women are at higher risk than black or Hispanic women
- Family history: Osteoporosis tends to run in families
But there are many things you can do, at any age:
- Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D: Eat plenty of low-fat milk, yogurt and cheeses as well as foods fortified with calcium, such as cereals, bread and orange juice
- Exercise: Increase bone strength by walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, lifting weights, dancing or playing sports like tennis. Activities that improve balance, such as yoga and tai chi, also are good sources of exercise.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Anorexia can be a risk factor for osteoporosis.
I’ve had conversations with my daughter about osteoporosis and the risks. Norton Healthcare can help you start the conversation with your daughter.
Come to our free class “Girl Talk: Healthy Bones Start Now.” The program, part of the Let’s Talk family series, will be held Thursday, Sept. 25, 6 p.m., at the Marshall Women’s Health & Education Center, Suite 108. This program is ideal for moms and their daughters. Orthopedic surgeon Kittie H. George, M.D., will discuss the importance of “filling up your calcium tank” to maintain healthy bones and prevent fractures and osteoporosis later in life.
To register, call (502) 629-1234.