Osteoporosis affects millions of Americans, most of them women. In fact, one in two women will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis in her lifetime. Bone is a living tissue mostly made of collagen and throughout our lives, our bones continually remove and replenish old bone deposits. As children, more new bone is formed than old bone removed. By age 30 the trend is reversed and more old bone is removed than new bone restored. At this stage, if a person doesn’t have enough strong bone mass or the rate of bone loss after age 30 occurs too rapidly, osteoporosis can occur. Unfortunately, this dilemma befalls women at high rates because of certain increased risk factors. Women can lose bone mass at rates up to 3% a year after age 30 because of the characteristics of perimenopause and menopause, and the decrease in estrogen production. Men generally experience lower rates of bone loss, but may still be at risk for fracture as they age. Eating healthily, staying active and avoiding excessive smoking and alcohol are all proven ways to slow down the degenerative properties of bones. Supplements of vitamin D and calcium are inexpensive, easily digestible and are as effective as naturally obtaining them from food. Also, doctor-recommended strengthening exercises can promote bone health and slow the effects of osteoporosis. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center is an excellent place to start learning about osteoporosis.
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