Are you at risk of osteoporosis?

What causes a bone to become weaker?

The bones you were born with are not the same bones you have today. Bone cells are constantly changing and adapting to their environment.

Your bones will respond to the demands that you place on them. If you don’t use your bones and muscles, your bones will respond by getting weaker.

If you stay active and use your muscles, your bones will respond by making more bone tissue, and becoming stronger.

Bones are made up of minerals such as calcium, and they need a regular supply of calcium from the diet to be healthy and strong. Vitamin D is important in bone health because it helps the body absorb more calcium from the food we eat.

Take the bone density test here!

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

Evidence suggests that the following factors may increase your risk of osteoporosis:

  • Family history – having a direct relative who has had an osteoporotic fracture (break)
  • You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you are a Caucasian or Asian female
  • Being over 60 years of age – osteoporosis is more common as we get older
  • Medical history – certain medical conditions and medicines can increase your risk of osteoporosis, including:
    • Low hormone levels – for women, if you had delayed puberty or early menopause, and for men, if you have low testosterone, you are more at risk.
    • Conditions that make nutrient absorption more difficult, such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease
    • Thyroid conditions , such as over active thyroid or parathyroid
    • Chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis,  or chronic liver or kidney disease
    • Corticosteroids used to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions, and other medications such as those used for epilepsy, cancer, and some mental illnesses. It is important to keep taking these medications if you have been prescribed them, but it is worth discussing your bone health with your doctor.
  • Lifestyle factors, such as low levels of physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and being underweight or overweight
  • Low calcium intake and low Vitamin D levels
  • If you are male and have low testosterone levels, you are more at risk

How can I prevent osteoporosis?

  • Eat a healthy diet, with an adequate daily calcium intake
  • Get sufficient Vitamin D from foods, sun exposure, or supplements (if required)
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce your alcohol and coffee intake. Coffee can reduce the amount of calcium in your bones.
  • Exercise regularly. Weight bearing exercise (for example, walking, tennis, jogging) and strength or resistance training are especially important.

For more information on preventing osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong, click  here.