Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why There's Never Been a Better Time to Build a Strong Foundation... and the strategies you need to do so!

Osteoporosis is a disease that no one seems to be aware of until it's too late. Sure you've heard the term "Osteoporosis" but are you aware of how quickly it could end your independent living and forever change your quality of life? The devastating health effects of Osteoporosis may be just as debilitating as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist, although any bone can be affected.

It is a disease that affects 1 in every 2 women! Unfortunately -- many women do not even realize they are suffering from the disease until a sudden strain, fall or bump results in a collapsed vertebrae or broken bone. (Note: A sudden loss of height, severe back pain, or stooped posture are all signs of a collapsed vertebra).

Bones, like muscle, are highly complex living tissue, they are not just hard and lifeless structures. They are dependent on proper diet and exercise just as any other organ in your body.

Your bones provide the structural support for your muscles and vital organs. They help make the foundation in which you exist, and how well you take care of your bones will determine how long they will support you.

As part of the aging process -- your bones will eventually reach a point where they will break down faster than they can repair themselves - this generally starts to occur around 35 years of age.

To make matters worse the deterioration of bone occurs at a faster rate once you have transitioned through menopause. In fact, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis. Which is why 50% of all women after the age of 50 develop the disease, and most are not even aware of it.

The best way to determine whether or not you are at risk of Osteoporosis is with a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This test can measure bone density in various sites of the body and will be help you determine the following:

  • Identify osteoporosis before a fracture occurs
  • Forecast your risk of a potential fracture in the future
  • Determine rate of bone loss when the test is performed at least once a year.

    In the United States today it is estimated that some 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. There are some known risk factors that may help you determine whether or not you should ask your doctor about a (BMD) test.

    Some risk factors noted by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) are:

  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Low estrogen as a result of menopause.
  • Having a small frame and/or excessive thinness.
  • Being Female
  • Personal history of fracture after the age of 50.
  • A lifetime of low calcium intake.
  • Excessive use of alcohol and cigarette smoking.
  • History of fracture in an immediate relative
  • Advanced age
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Use of certain medications (corticosteroids, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants and others)

    The statistics for osteoporosis related fractures is downright scary - according to the NOF, A woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. And 24 percent of hip fracture patients aged 50 and over DIE in the year following their fracture.

    A broken bone is not something most people even consider will bring an end to their independent living - yet it happens. 1 out of every 5 hip fractures will end up living the remainder of their years in a nursing home because they are no longer able to live independently.

    Is this how you want to live out the last 30 - 40 years of your life? I don't think so!

    Fortunately - there are "proven" preventive measures you can take to help prevent osteoporosis and reduce your risk of fractures.

    One Proven measure you can take is the incorporation of aerobic, weight bearing and resistance exercise! Just another reason for you to get off your chair and go for a walk during lunch!

    The results of the Bone, Estrogen and Strength (BEST) study funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) demonstrated that aerobic, weight-bearing and resistance exercise improves bone mineral density (BMD) in post menopausal women whether or not they use hormone therapy. The study shows that specific strength training and resistance exercises can retard and even reverse bone loss in healthy post menopausal women, and that estrogen replacement is not necessary to gain the benefit of the exercise.

    A second Proven measure is to consume a well balanced diet rich in vitamin D and calcium. As you already know calcium is vital to bone health but what you may not know is that the relationship between calcium absorption and vitamin D is similar to that of a locked door and a key. Vitamin D is the key that unlocks the door and allows calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. Vitamin D also works in the kidneys to help resorb calcium that otherwise would be excreted.

    The body's ability to produce Vitamin D decreases with age and national surveys have shown that many women consume less than half of the daily recommended amount of calcium. So you may need to start thinking about supplementing your diet with both of these vital vitamins!

    Whether you supplement your diet with Vitamin D and Calcium rich foods or a multi vitamin it's recommended for your bone health that you get between 400 and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D and at least 1200mg of calcium a day.

    Some other measures you can take to further reduce your risk of Osteoporosis are:

  • No Smoking or excessive alcohol intake.
  • An open discussion with your primary care provider about bone health.
  • Bone density testing.

    By incorporating the above measures into your life you will be taking the necessary steps to provide your bones with what they need to support you throughout the rest of your life.

    Take care of your bones and your bones will continue to take care of you!

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