osteopenia and osteoporosis

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.

Factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis

  • Inadequate calcium intake
  • Being a Caucasian or Asian woman
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • A small thin body frame
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor nutrition
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • Certain prescription drugs (include cortisone, blood thinners, lithium, some antibiotics)
  • Too much salt and sugar interrupt the absorption of calcium
  • A history of eating disorders
  • Family history of osteoporosis

Symptoms of osteopenia and osteoporosis

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.

How to test for osteopenia and osteoporosis

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.

    Normal: T-score between 0 and -1.0

    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.

Prevention and Treatment for osteoporosis and osteopenia

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:

  • Walking
  • Jogging and running
  • Jumping rope
  • Jumping jacks
  • Dancing
  • Weight lifting
  • Push-ups
  • Climbing stairs
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Tai-chi
  • Adding weights to arms and ankles can provide extra resistance.
  • Daily activities such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn and gardening can also provide resistance.

Diet and Nutrition

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:

  • Canned bony fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • Dark green vegetables - turnip greens, swiss chard, kale, arugula, broccoli
  • Black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and navy beans
  • Almonds
  • Ground sesame seeds
  • Black strap molasses
  • Sesame butter (tahini)
  • Dairy products (low fat or non fat)

Magnesium and vitamin D also play a key role in bone health.


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:

  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Drink less coffee and other caffeine drinks – caffeine causes too much calcium to be excreted from the body and interferes with Vitamin D absorption
  • Stop smoking - studies show that bone density improves for those who quit smoking
  • Reduce salt consumption.
  • Reduce consumption of cola and other carbonated drinks that contain phosphorus, a mineral, that in excess causes the body to excrete calcium.

For reliable information on supplements I recommend Improve Your Health and Wellness Naturally. Your guide to natural health supplements. Read the latest clinical research and information.


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