Osteoporosis is a big deal.  It is a condition in which your bones become fragile and brittle over time and can thus break far more easily.  This can happen for a number of reasons such as poor nutrition.  However, changes in hormones can also affect your risk.  That’s why ostereoperosis in women is so much more common that it is in men.  Women undergo hormonal changes, namely menopause, that men don’t.  Thus, women are at a much higher risk, but don’t be deceived, men can get osteoporosis too!  Here are 6 “Big Deals” to consider so you don’t get it, and if you already have it, deal with it as effectively as possible.

1. Know your risks for Osteoporosis in women

You can’t prevent something if you don’t know what the risk factors are.  These include:

Age: The older you are, the higher your risk of osteroperosis.  That doesn’t mean you’ll eventually get it if you live long enough, but it does mean you’re chances get higher over time.

Gender: Of course men can get brittle bones, but it isn’t as common as osteoporosis in women.

Low bone mass: No two bodies are created equal.  Some are just made with more dense bones than others.  If you start out with thinner bones, you’re more likely to get the disease.

History: If you’d already had fractures, it only makes sense that you’re more likely to have them in the future.

Tobacco status: Smokers are at a higher risk, plain and simple.

Medical conditions: There are some medical conditions that go hand-in-hand with brittle bones.  For instance, rheumatoid arthritis wears down bones, clearly making them weaker.

Medications: Beware of what meds your are taking because some tend to decrease bone density

2. Exercise away brittle bones

Participating in regular exercise can have a significant impact on bone strength.  This is particularly true of weight bearing exercise, such as weight lifting.  This is because the activity puts stress on muscles and bones, triggering hormones that say “Hey, we need to get stronger” and stimulate cells that make bone to work harder.  Exercise also helps you improve balance, which means you are less likely to fall and break something in the first place.  If you already have osteoporosis, be cautious and be sure to talk to a Physical Therapist before you go ‘all out.’

3. How calcium and vitamin D can help

No matter what you do, or don’t, if you don’t have the building blocks of bone, you can’t make bone.  A major component of bone is calcium.  You should be getting at least 1,000mg daily, depending on your age and activity level.  However, it is important to get enough vitamin D as well because it helps calcium absorb.  In theory, you could get plenty of calcium and still wind up with osteoporosis because not enough of it absorbs into your body to be used in bone production.  The best way to get any vitamin or mineral is of course food, but it can be difficult.  If you don’t get enough in your diet (and you likely do not), use supplements.

4. Stop smoking to stop Osteoporosis in women

Even smokers know that smoking is harmful these days.  They don’t do it because they are ignorant of this fact.  However, it is a major risk factor for osteoporosis.

5. Drink less, or better not at all

Too much alcohol can be a bad thing for a lot of biological reasons.  Its just not good for your body; like smoking.  Also like smoking, alcohol consumption is a big risk factor for osteoperosis in women too.

6. Treat the underlying cause of a fracture

If you do end up with a fracture, be sure you are treated for osteoporosis.  There is plenty you can do to avoid them in the future. The answers are the same as the ones we gave above for avoiding osteoporosis in the first place.  Exercise and diet, but also modern medications can be helpful.  They can help your body to build str0nger bones, particularly in folks with low bone mass.  Whether you were born with low bone mass or acquired it through the decades, medication may help you.  Just ask your doctor.