Published: December 12, 2022
Feeling it in your Bones? Keep ‘em Healthy Then!
As we know, the older you are, the more likely you are at risk for bone fractures. Bones lose much of their density, a condition known as osteoporosis, which weakens bones, making them more susceptible to unexpected fractures.
Your bones are made of living, growing tissue and the inside of healthy bones looks a bit like a sponge. With osteoporosis, some holes develop in that “sponge" that grows larger and more numerous, which weakens the inside of the bone.
The condition often progresses without any symptoms (or pain) and is not found until there is a fracture. It can be a common condition in older women. However, some younger women with certain risk factors can also get the disease.
Take steps to keep your bones healthy
- Nutrition: You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if your body doesn’t have enough calcium and vitamin D. Get your recommended daily dose:
- Daily calcium intake is 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg daily via diet and/or supplement. In addition to dairy products, good sources of calcium are salmon, sardines, kale, broccoli, calcium-fortified juices and bread, and dried figs
- Daily vitamin D is also important because it enables the body to absorb calcium. Check with your doctor on recommended doses that can be obtained from sunlight exposure a few times a week, by drinking fortified milk or through supplements.
- Lifestyle: People who lead sedentary (inactive) lifestyles have, a higher risk of developing this condition. Try exercises that make your muscles work against gravity (such as walking, jogging, aerobics, or even weightlifting) which are good for strengthening bones. And, resistance training exercises are also good.
- Tobacco: Smoking increases the risk of fractures.
- Alcohol: Having two drinks a day (or more) increases your risk of osteoporosis for both men and women.
Bone density and screening
If you have risk factors for osteoporosis and are concerned about your bone health, you should ask your doctor about a bone density test. Bone density is a measurement of how thick and strong bones are. A bone density test is recommended for women 65 or older, or women younger than 65 years old who are at risk for fractures. You may also hear it called a DEXA* scan and may require prior authorization from WHA so your doctor can submit that request. For more on preventive screenings for adults by age, go to mywha.org/preventive.
The results of your bone density test can help your doctor determine your rate of bone loss and consider if any medication or recommendations are needed to slow bone loss. For details on bone health specifically, go to mywha.org/healthybones.
* A bone density test, measures the mineral content of the bones in certain areas of the skeleton. It’s a way to measure bone loss as you age. Since this is considered a preventive screening, there should be no added cost to eligible WHA members but prior authorization is required. If you have questions, please call WHA Member Services.