Osteopenia refers to bone density that is lower than normal, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.
Bone density and bone mass are a measure of bone strength. If loss in density declines, it can indicate osteopenia. If it continues to decline it can lead to osteoporosis.
Under normal conditions the process of new bone replacing old bone occurs constantly until about the age of 30. After the age of 30, deterioration of old bone progresses faster than new bone replacement.
In women the most dramatic drop in bone density is usually after menopause, when estrogen produced by the ovaries decreases and bone loss can be as much as 2-4% per year.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken to the point that they can break from injury that normally would not cause bone fractures. Osteoporosis usually strikes people over the age of 50 and about 80% are women.
Loss in bone density occurs without symptoms. Osteoporosis is often called the silent disease because it can go undetected until a sudden bump or simple fall results in a fracture.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan (DXA) to detect osteoporosis. DXA measures bone density in the hips and spine. The bone density scan takes only a few minutes to perform and is very accurate. The results are called T-scores.
Osteopenia: T-score between -1.0 and -2.5
Osteoporosis: T-score lower than -2.5
If you've been diagnosed with osteopenia, it's a warning sign that you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis. The good news is that it's not too late to build strong bones.
It's never too late to start building strong bones. Even if you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is possible to reduce and even reverse bone loss.
The best exercise for increasing bone density is weight bearing exercise and weight resistance exercise. They strengthen the muscles by forcing them to work against gravity. The muscles pull and tug at the bones which stimulate the cells to grow new bone. These type of exercises also improve balance and coordination which can reduce falls and bone injury.
Weight bearing and resistance exercises include:
Diet and nutrition play a crucial role in bone health. Calcium is essential for healthy bones. Most women baby boomers need about 1500 mg daily of calcium.
Excellent calcium sources include:
There are many options available to choose from when it comes to osteoporosis medications. But first of all you should make sure your diet is rich in the proper nutrients that support strong bones and secondly, start doing bone building exercise.
Other lifestyle changes:
Lifestyle changes to help keep bones strong include:
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