Bone up with free bone density screenings: May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month |

Bone up with free bone density screenings: May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month

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TAHOE/TRUCKEE andamp;#8212; Bone health is important for women and men. Hereandamp;#8217;s why:Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of your bones which can cause them to break. About 34 million Americans are at risk for osteoporosis and studies show half of all women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. One in four men will, too. The scariest statistic is 50 percent of women 50 and over who break a hip die within one year. Many who survive need long-term assistance care. Prevention and early detection is key!By age 18 women have acquired 85 percent of their bone mass. As women approach and go through menopause a shift in bone protective hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) leads to a decline in bone mass. In fact, in five to seven years following menopause, a woman can lose up to 20 percent of her bone density.Most broken bones due to osteoporosis occur in the hip, spine and wrist, but other bones can break, too. Even after healing, broken bones can cause lingering and severe pain. It can affect your spine significantly and cause you to lose height, affect your posture and begin to affect your everyday life. You cannot feel your bones becoming weaker. You could have osteoporosis (or the beginnings of bone loss called osteopenia) now, or be at risk without realizing it. Frequently, breaking a bone is the first clue.

Set risk factors include age, sex, menopause, family history, small body frame, broken bones/height loss. Osteoporosis affects people of all ages but is most common in post-menopausal women. Being female puts you at greater risk due to smaller frames/bones, smaller muscle mass and different hormone levels. Sex hormones protect bone. Estrogen protects it from breaking down and progesterone helps to build it. Both natural and surgical menopause increase osteoporosis risk due to the drop in these hormones. Research suggests heredity and genetics play a major role in osteoporosis and broken bones. If either of your parents or an aunt/uncle or grandparent had osteoporosis, loss of height or curvature of the spine you are more likely to have bone loss. Smaller, thinner people are more likely to get osteoporosis. Broken bones in the spine can occur with no noticeable pain but they can/do cause height loss.

Controllable risk factors include calcium and Vitamin D intake/status, intake of fruits and vegetables, intake of protein, sodium and caffeine (acidity), activity levels, smoking, alcohol intake and weight loss. Calcium is the building block of bone and Vitamin D is the andamp;#8220;carrierandamp;#8221; that takes the calcium to your bones and helps your body use it to build bone. Taking the correct type and amount of calcium is important, as is Vitamin D. Research is finding more reasons for knowing your Vitamin D levels and making sure you get enough full body sunlight daily or take a supplement to keep your levels healthy.Eating a well balanced diet rich in the colors of the rainbow (fruits and vegetables) is important for healthy bones because they contain trace minerals and keep your body in a more alkaline state. Protein, sodium, caffeine and soda intake affect your bone when you take in andamp;#8220;high levelsandamp;#8221; and donandamp;#8217;t balance it out with fruits and veggies.Sodium and caffeine intake kept at low to moderate levels may not affect bone loss as much as soda intake does. Protein is important for bone health because it supports healthy levels of lean mass. Lean mass is needed for most of our bodyandamp;#8217;s functions, but everyoneandamp;#8217;s andamp;#8220;optimalandamp;#8221; protein intake is different. People who are bed ridden or inactive for any number of reasons or do not exercise are at high risk for osteoporosis.Regular andamp;#8220;weight bearingandamp;#8221; exercise such as fast walking, weight lifting and other forms of muscle-strengthening exercise (Jazzercise, CrossFit, Pilates etc.) that use all the muscles of the body will help prevent osteoporosis. Cigarettes are bad for your bone cells, it makes it harder for your body to absorb calcium and prevents estrogen from being able to protect your bones.Drinking too much alcohol reduces bone formation, reduces calcium intake and absorption and is bad for your overall health. andamp;#8220;Heavyandamp;#8221; is considered more than 2-3 drinks a day.While losing weight is good for your overall health, including preventing/reversing heart disease and diabetes, it can also lead to bone loss. You can protect your bones while losing weight by taking in appropriate amounts of calcium, Vitamin D, and a rainbow of fruits and veggies within a weight loss plan.Many common medications can cause bone loss too. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about the potential for bone loss from any of your prescription medications. These include (but are not limited to): Antacids, some anti-seizure medications, aromatase inhibitors, chemotherapy drugs, steroids and thyroid hormones in excess.Many common andamp;#8220;dis-easesandamp;#8221; can also put you at risk for osteoporosis. Ask your doctor about risk and a bone density test if you have: Celiac disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohnandamp;#8217;s disease and ulcerative colitis, weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass surgery, diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, irregular periods if you are not peri-menopausal or menopausal, low testosterone levels, leukemia and lymphoma, multiple myeloma, sickle cell disease, stroke victims, Parkinsonandamp;#8217;s disease and MS as well as breast cancer patients (aromatase inhibitors), depression patients on SSRIandamp;#8217;s, people with eating disorders, organ transplant patients and men with prostate cancer. If you have any of these, getting annual bone density screenings is suggested.andamp;#8212; Submitted by Dr. Ann Sura, ND. Dr. Sura is a Naturopathic Doctor in Kings Beach

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