Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that weakens your bones, leaving them thin and brittle.
This can leave you at greater risk for severe back pain, height loss and broken bones – especially fracture of the spine, wrist and hip. Everyone's bones lose calcium and weaken with age, but not everyone will develop osteoporosis.
Who has osteoporosis?
Millions of men and women do, but there are a number of factors that increase your risk of osteoporosis. Some of them include:
- Your gender: Women are almost 4 times more prone to develop osteoporosis. And women who have gone through menopause are especially at risk.
- Your family: A family history of osteoporosis increases your risk – as does being of European or Asian ancestry.
- Your lifestyle: Smoking, heavy alcohol use and getting little or no exercise can increase your risk.
- Your diet: A diet low in calcium and Vitamin D, excessive dieting and some eating disorders (like anorexia nervosa) can increase your risk.
- Your age: As we age our risk of developing osteoporosis increases.
How can you find out if you have osteoporosis?
The best course of action is to be proactive about your health. Talking to your doctor about your bone health is also an important step. A doctor will look at your medical history and your current health, and may perform a number of tests. Your doctor may also help you to evaluate your current bone health risks. One of the most common tests is called a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This test uses X-rays to measure the density of your bones – usually the spine, hip or wrist. Bone density tests compare bone mass with an established norm or standard. A bone density test is the best way to determine your bone health.
What can I do to help prevent osteoporosis?
To help prevent osteoporosis, the first thing you can do is to start early by making sure that you are getting adequate levels of calcium and Vitamin D. Then, find an exercise routine that you can stick with, and start eating a healthy diet full of calcium-rich foods. If your diet does not provide enough calcium ask your doctor about taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement like Os-Cal®. Osteoporosis literally means "porous bone" – because the body has had to take calcium from the bone to maintain an adequate level in the bloodstream.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure or prevent any disease.