Osteopenia: The warning sign

Your bones are the densest when you are about 30. Osteopenia may occur after age 50. The exact age depends how strong your bones are when you are young. If they are strong, you may never get osteopenia. If your bones are not naturally dense, you may get it earlier.

Osteopenia or seeing it turn into osteoporosis is not inevitable. Diet, exercises, and sometimes medication, can help keep your bones dense and strong for decades.

Some people are genetically prone to it, with a family history of the condition. Women have lower bone mass than men.

Sometimes, you may have a medical condition or treatment that can trigger the condition. Eating disorders, for example, can starve your body of nutrients needed to keep bones strong. Other causes include:

  • Untreated celiac disease. People with this condition can damage their small intestine by eating foods with gluten in them.

  • An overactive thyroid.

  • Chemotherapy. Exposure to radiation can have an effect.

  • Certain medications.

  • A lack of calcium or vitamin D

  • Not enough exercise, especially strength training Smoking

  • Too much alcoholic beverages

  • Carbonated beverages

Like their names suggest, osteopenia and osteoporosis are related diseases. Both are varying degrees of bone loss, as measured by bone mineral density, a marker for how strong a bone is and the risk that it might break.

Fracture risk increases as bone mineral density declines. A T-score ranging from -1 to -2.5 is classified as osteopenia. The lower the score, the more porous your bone.

Osteopenia can be treated either with exercise and nutrition or with medications.

Certain types of exercise can increase muscle mass, which in turn enhances strength, muscle control, balance, and coordination. Strong evidence shows that regular physical activity can reduce falls by nearly a third in older adults at high risk of falling.

The food that you eat can affect your bones. Learning the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health will help you make healthier food choices every day.

I am here to help you!

Irina Mitkovets

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