Bone Up on the Facts
Four simple tips to help prevent osteoporosis
TO CELEBRATE National Osteoporosis Awareness and
Prevention Month this May, briskly walk into those springtime
temperatures. Exercise improves bone strength and helps prevent
osteoporosis, which affects nearly 44 million Americans. Although
more prevalent among women older than 50, osteoporosis can strike
at any age and that includes men, too. No bones about it-these tips
pertain to everyone.
1. Physical reaction.
Weight-bearing activities, such as running, racket sports,
aerobics and dance, directly improve bone health, but
muscle-strengthening exercises are equally important, says Felicia
Cosman, M.D., clinical director of the National Osteoporosis
Foundation. "There's always a correlation between a bone's strength
and the overlying muscle's strength. A strong muscle can actually
stimulate growth of bone tissue."
2. Dynamic duo.
Bones crave a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D,
but the Surgeon General reports that the average American doesn't
get enough of either important ingredient. To give your body the
calcium it needs to replace worn-out bone cells with healthy new
cells, reach for milk, leafy green vegetables, soybeans, yogurt,
cheese, and fortified orange juice and cereals. To absorb calcium,
the body requires vitamin D, which your skin produces when exposed
to sunlight. Or, you can take a supplement if you don't consume
enough foods high in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, saltwater fish,
liver and fortified milk.
3. Quit your vices.
If you smoke, quit! "Smoking cigarettes suppresses the efficiency
of bone growth and contributes to bone loss, making bones
substantially weaker and subject to fracturing," Dr. Cosman says.
More than three alcoholic drinks a day creates a similar scenario.
For women, both smoking and drinking appear to trigger early
menopause, which increases risk for osteoporosis.
4. Test pattern.
A bone density test, called densitometry or DXA scan, can diagnose
osteoporosis and also determine if you're at risk. This gives you
time to begin a bone-healthy lifestyle and possibly start
medication to slow bone loss and retain bone mass.
-By Donna Shyrer