Dr. Melissa Hershberg is here to talk about the importance of bone health at evey age.
Bones play a critical role in the body. They provide structure to our skeleton, protect our organs (skull protects the brain; ribs protect the heart and lungs), support our muscles and joints, and store minerals calcium. It’s also where our red and white blood cells are made.
Bones are living tissue. This means they are constantly remodeling – breaking down and building up. When we’re young, we build bone faster than we break it down and our bone mass increases. After we hit age 30 though, and especially after menopause, bone tends to break down faster than it builds up and if we’re not careful, bone mass can decrease significantly.
Bones are basically a combination of collagen and calcium phosphate. The collagen gives bones they’re elasticity so they can withstand pressure and not break when a force is applied. The calcium and phosphate are the minerals that makes bone strong and hard. Cortical bone makes up the outside and is dense and compact. Trabecular bone is more porous and found inside the bone.
When and at what stage does Osteoporosis from?
Osteoporosis is a disease of low bone density. It’s when our bones become thin and more prone to compression and fracture – particularly in regions of hip, back, and wrist.
We need to think of bone as a bank account where we deposit and withdraw calcium. When we’re young our hormones make it easy to make deposits, and provided we’re active and eating a good diet, we build up bone mass. By our 20s, we’ve reached our peak bone mass. After about age 30, our hormones change so that withdrawals are easier and we start to lose bone mass. Diet, exercise, lifestyle, and genetics determine how much bone we lose. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a bone scan shows that our bones are 2.5 standard deviations below the average peak bone mass.
When we lose bone density and mass, our bones become much weaker and break more easily. The most obvious consequence is fractures. At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from a fracture due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. And even scarier, Around 30% of elderly that suffer an osteoporosis related hip fracture will die within the following year.
Recommendation for healthy adults is to get about 1000 mg of elemental calcium and 1000 IU VITAMIN D per day. If you’re pregnant or post menopausal, calcium needs increase to 1200 mg per day.
Obviously dairy is a high source of calcium. An 8 oz glass of milk has 300 mg elemental calcium. Yogurt and cheese are also great. If you can’t tolerate dairy, try these other great sources: