Osteoporosis is a bone disorder characterized by too little bone mass. When a person with
osteoporosis gets older, their bones become brittle and weak, causing them to break more easily.
Any bone can be affected, but most often breaks occur in the wrist, hip, or spine, when a person trips and falls. A broken hip or spine is very serious, requiring hospitalization and surgery. It will likely impair a person's ability to walk, and cause pain, deformity, and sometimes death.
Teenagers are supposed to have at least 1,300 milligrams per day. Adults can reduce their calcium intake to at least 1,000 mg per day. The preferred source of calcium is calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.
Our bones, in addition to providing support for the body, serve as a large store of an
important mineral called calcium. Calcium is required for a variety of jobs performed
by cells in the body. Because bones are made of calcium, bone tissue is routinely broken
down to supply the body with this needed calcium.
Osteoporosis results when a person doesn't receive enough calcium to replenish bone loss, or when a person's cells are unable to properly use calcium.
Bone With Osteoporosis
Multiple genes have been shown to influence bone health. If someone in your family has osteoporosis, you may have inherited factors that make you more susceptible to this disease. So it's important to know your family medical history. If you know you're at risk, you can take steps to protect yourself.
Even if osteoporosis doesn't run in your family, you may still be at risk. All women are generally at risk for
developing osteoporosis due to hormonal changes that occur at menopause. (Hormones control when bone tissue is
broken down to access stored calcium.)
Women who weigh less than 127 pounds are even more likely to develop osteoporosis because they have smaller bones. Eating disorders are especially dangerous. If a woman experiences weight loss significant enough to alter her normal menstrual cycle, she will likely suffer from osteoporosis in later years.
It is important to eat foods high in calcium while you're young. You only have until age 20 or 30 to build the bone tissue and store the calcium you will need in later years.
Begin now to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
1. Make sure your diet includes the recommended daily amount of calcium,
as well as Vitamin D (which helps your body use calcium).
2. Participate in weight-bearing exercise to encourage the building of strong bones.
3. Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, and caffeine (factors that increase calcium loss from bone).
4. Talk to your doctor about how to build and maintain healthy bones.
5. Ask your doctor for a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis (after age 65).
Supported by the Utah Department of Health Chronic Disease Genomics Program through Cooperative Agreement Number U58/CCU822802 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.