MAY IS NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS AWARENESS & PREVENTION MONTH

Did you know that one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis?

Bone is living tissue, and is in a constant cycle of formation and breakdown. Through our teens and mid-20s, bone mass continues to increase until we reach peak bone mass around age 30. From then on, bone mass gradually declines over time. Additionally, women experience a period of rapid bone loss in the first five to seven years after menopause, which contributes to the greater incidence of osteoporosis in females.

Although some decline in bone mass with aging is inevitable, there are things you can do to help slow or stop the loss. These include:

•Eating a healthy diet that includes bone-building nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, potassium, protein and dietary fiber. Filling your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits is a great way to enhance your consumption of health-promoting nutrients such as those mentioned above. Many of us know that calcium is important for strong bones, but vitamin D is just as important because our bodies need it to absorb the calcium in foods. It is often difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, and while our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, many of us in the northern half of the United States do not see enough sunshine year-round to maintain adequate levels. Ask your doctor about having your blood levels tested to see if you need a supplement.

•Engaging in daily physical activity, especially weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Not only can exercise help reduce bone loss, it also contributes to improved flexibility, strength and balance and can lower the risk of falls, which can cause fractures and broken bones.

•Avoiding smoking and over-consumption of alcohol (more than two to three drinks per day). Smoking and drinking alcohol deplete the body of important nutrients and contribute to a decline in bone mass.

If you have children and teenagers, help them maintain a healthy diet and incorporate at least 60 minutes of activity into their daily schedule. Childhood and adolescence is the optimal time for bone building, and those who have a higher bone mass in their late teens and early 20s have a lower risk of osteoporosis as they age.