Osteoporosis is a disease that involves the skeletal system of both men and women, although it’s more prevalent in women. According to Kamiah A. Walker, a medical writer for Spine Universe, osteoporosis causes the bones to become delicate and weak, making fractures a lot more likely. These fractures usually occur in the hips, wrists, or spine, but can occur anywhere. People with osteoporosis may fracture bones by simply lifting heavy objects, sneezing or bending in certain directions. Symptoms of osteoporosis may not be noticeable until the disease has progressed somewhat. Once the loss of bone reaches a certain point, sufferers may experience back pain, various fractures as well as gradual loss of height, which causes a slumped posture.
There are many possible causes of osteoporosis, and can be caused by low levels of calcium, vitamin D and calcium, the building blocks of strong bones. By not getting sufficient amounts of these essential bone-building minerals while you’re in your 20s and 30s, you are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis as you get older. These minerals are essential since your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding new bone. Without vitamin-D, calcium is almost useless, as it relies on vitamin-D for absorption. According to Mayo Clinic scientists, when you’re young your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and you reach your peak bone mass in your mid-30s. Unfortunately, after about 35 or so, bone rebuilding isn’t so fast, and you actually start to break down more than is rebuilt.
Another cause of this “brittle bone” condition is hormonal imbalance, which can include estrogen in women, testosterone in men as well as inadequate levels of parathyroid hormones, excessively high levels of thyroid hormones and growth hormones. This is why it is imperative that menopausal and post menopausal women consume higher levels of the bone-building minerals, since the drop in estrogen can make bones thinner and cause more rapid bone loss. Even though men tend to develop osteoporosis about 10 years later than women, they still need to take the same precautions as women to prevent the condition from becoming disabling as they grow older.
Exercise is important for your health in many ways, and building strong bones is no exception. You are also more likely to develop osteoporosis later on in life if you don’t exercise regularly, which helps to keep bones strong and less likely to break. Weight-bearing exercises are great for encouraging your cells to create new bone, and is a great way to prevent osteoporosis.
Luckily, the bones are very resilient, says the National Osteoporosis Association, and you can start strengthening them at any time during your life, even after you’ve already developed osteoporosis. Consuming adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin-D and phosphorus are important, as well as exercising and maintaining properly-balanced hormone levels. If you already have osteoporosis, your doctor can prescribe special medication for you to take along with beginning an exercise program and increasing your bone-building minerals.