If you notice you’ve lost some height or your spine is curving, it could be a sign of osteoporosis. People over 50 are at a higher risk of developing the bone disease that happens when the body loses too much bone or doesn’t make enough of it.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), around 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, the latter of which puts them at risk of developing osteoporosis. There are some uncontrollable risk factors of developing the disease, including being over 50, menopause or having a family history of the condition.
But there are several risk factors that are in your control. If you notice signs such as a curved spine or decreased height, you should seek the help of a healthcare professional immediately. Read on to find out what you can do to prevent osteoporosis:
Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D complement one another when it comes to bone health. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center reported studies show that low calcium consumption during life is linked to low bone mass and raised fracture rates. Most people don’t get enough calcium and when it is consumed, you need vitamin D to absorb it. Cheddar cheese, non-fat milk and baked beans are some ways you can get more calcium in your diet. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight, food including mushrooms and salmon or supplements.
Eating fruits and vegetables
In addition to eating the aforementioned foods, the consumption of fruits and vegetables can help prevent bone loss. Registered dietitian Betty Kovacs Harbolic and Dr. William C. Shiel Jr. wrote on MedicineNet that green leafy vegetables including kale, collard greens and broccoli can provide calcium to maintain the strength of teeth and bones. WebMD reported citrus fruits including red or pink grapefruit, figs and oranges can help to boost calcium intake. Prunes are helpful for both calcium and vitamin D consumption.
Eating too much caffeine and sodium
On the other hand, WebMD also outlined what to avoid if you’re at risk of osteoporosis. Dr. Linda K. Massey, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University in Spokane, told the publication “[y]ou lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine ingested.” Still, she said keeping caffeine intake to 300 milligrams each day while eating enough calcium likely counteracts any losses from caffeine.
Research has also shown that postmenopausal women who consume a lot of salt lose more bone minerals than other women who are the same age. According to Massey, studies show that regular table salt leads to calcium loss and weakened bones over time. Americans get 90% of their sodium through salt and eat double what they should.
Cooper University Health Care noted that not having enough physical activity contributes to lower bone density, which the NOF reports could lead to an increased chance of getting osteoporosis. The World Health Organization said older adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical exercise a week.
Like remaining inactive, using tobacco can lead to lower bone density, Cooper University Health Care said. Quitting smoking at any age will reduce smoking-related bone loss and lessen the risk of broken bones, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Resources to quit smoking can be found here.
Overindulging in alcohol
Studies have shown that women between the ages of 67 and 90 who drank an average of six typical alcoholic drinks a day had more bone loss than women who drank a minimal amount of alcohol, according to Spine-health.com. While it’s not understood precisely how alcohol affects bone health, it seems it can inhibit bone formation.
Having a body mass index under 21 means an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. No matter your BMI, late perimenopausal women and women who are in the first few years after menopause are more likely to lose bone, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Diets that eliminate entire food groups and ultra-low-calorie diets should be avoided.