The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

October 11, 2013

Exploring the ins and outs of osteoporosis and its prevention

Much like a building’s walls and foundation ensure structural integrity, the human skeletal system serves as a support system that keeps you strong and sturdy. Both buildings and humans age, and with age comes weakening structures. But well-planned blueprints and proper construction keep buildings durable for many years. The same goes for the human skeletal system – taking care of your bones throughout your life helps establish a healthy physical frame.

There are certain conditions that can cause bones to become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis, a common bone-weakening condition, causes 8.9 million fractures each year each, per the International Osteoporosis Foundation. While some causes of osteoporosis are uncontrollable, there are a number of things you can do to prevent this ailment.

Q. What is osteoporosis?

A. Osteoporosis takes place when your bone, which is living tissue, fails to replace old bone fast enough. This causes bone to become fragile and weak, leading to increased risk of fractures.

Those most affected by osteoporosis are Asian and white women 60 years and older.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Early stress of bone weakness and deterioration are often not detectable. However, there are some warning signs that may indicate osteoporosis to keep an eye on:

* A broken bone that easily occurs

* Loss of height over time

* Hunched posture

If you suspect osteoporosis or another bone condition, speak with your health care provider.

Q. What are the risk factors?

A. There are many things that influence your risk of developing osteoporosis. Some risk factors are controllable while others are not.

Controllable risk factors:

* Inactive lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle means that you’re not getting much physical activity, which puts you at a greater risk for osteoporosis. Regular exercise builds bone strength and helps fight osteoporosis.

* Calcium-deficient diet. Long-term lack of calcium intake is conducive to the development of osteoporosis. Bone density relies on calcium consumption, so a person who doesn’t ingest appropriate amounts of calcium typically experiences lessened bone density.

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