More than 80% of fractures among people age 50 or more are attributed to osteoporosis. In fact, such fractures often lead to a diagnosis of osteoporosis, since the disease causes virtually no other symptoms. What can you do to detect the disease early on and protect your bones?
A bone mineral density (BMD) test is used to determine whether you have osteoporosis. The test is recommended for all adults age 65 and over. However, people who are at greater risk of osteoporosis can undergo the screening test earlier.
Tips for protecting your bones
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes, so don’t wait until you reach the age of screening before adopting strategies to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Be physically active
Weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, or dancing are excellent for improving bone density.
Activities that improve muscular strength and balance —Tai-chi, Pilates, or weight training, for example— are also recommended to help you avoid falls that can cause fractures.
Make sure you’re getting enough calcium
Calcium plays several important roles in the body. When you don’t consume enough calcium, your body takes the calcium in your bones and redistributes it elsewhere. To avoid that, it is crucial to eat calcium-rich foods on a daily basis.
If you’re unsure whether you’re getting enough calcium, consult your pharmacist or go to the Osteoporosis Canada website, where you will find a tool to calculate your calcium intake.
Take vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D is essential to help your body absorb the calcium contained in the foods you eat. It also plays an important role in maintaining muscle health.
Vitamin D is produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Because of our climate, it is challenging for people living in Canada to produce enough vitamin D to meet their needs, which is why Health Canada recommends that all adults take a vitamin D supplement. Your pharmacist can tell you what your recommended dose is, according to your age, gender, and health.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Studies have shown that smoking and excessive drinking are linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Heavy drinking also increases the risk of accidents, and therefore of fractures too.
Act today, to keep your bones healthy for as long as possible!