020405 Improving your bone mineral density
Over time your bones gradually lose their strength and become porous and brittle. This can lead to bone fractures, and depending on the circumstances, a hospital stay.
The bones in your body are constantly evolving by a process known as remodeling, in which the old bone material is replaced by new bone material. A young person has the ability to make bone faster than it is broken down and it is this capability that causes bone mass to peak in the mid thirties. After that, the remodeling process is slower and bone may be lost than gained. This can lead to osteopenia and the more serious condition known as osteoporosis. It is this latter stage that can lead to fractures. Women automatically lose bone integrity due to menopause.
Menopause causes a decline in the production of the hormone estrogen an important ingredient for bone health. Bone loss can rapidly accelerate anywhere from one to three percent a year until age sixty. At this point bone loss decreases but doesn’t stop completely.
Men also lose bone density, but not at the higher rates of a female. Moreover the onset of the men’s osteoporosis generally shows up a decade later than a woman’s.
Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about a family history of having small bones, being thin, Asian, and white. These are uncontrollable factors that contribute to a higher risk of osteoporosis in these select groups. But there are steps you can take to help protect yourself.
Being mindful of preexisting conditions, (darest I say this during the current health care debate?), there are some things that can be taken to reduce your bone loss. The number one suggestion, if you are a smoker, is to quit smoking. Since the early 60’s we have known about the dangers of smoking.
Smoking reduces your bodies’ ability to absorb calcium in your intestine and calcium is a prime mineral necessary for building strong bones. Smoking, at least from a woman’s standpoint, may inhibit the amount of estrogen that is produced by her body.