Osteoporosis is one of the natural signs of aging, and the International Osteoporosis foundation has stated that over 44 million men and women in the U.S suffer from it. This number is much larger if you look at it on a global scale.
So, what is osteoporosis?
In simple words, it’s a process where bones decalcify and start to crack. Because of the lack of calcium, the bones are now weaker. When the vertebra has cracks in them due to osteoporosis, a vertebral crush fracture can occur causing severe pain.
Women are more prone to this problem, and often experience hip fractures because of it. Since women have lower bone density than men, they lose more bone mass with age.
You’re at a higher risk of osteoporosis if your family has a history of it or if you suffer from estrogen/testosterone deficiency. Long term use of medication such as thyroid-replacement medication or corticosteroids can also cause this problem.
One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis will be to ensure that you’re consuming enough calcium rich foods such as green vegetables, yogurt, milk, kale, sardines, etc. Avoid excessive protein intake and sodas which contain phosphates and caffeine – these products leech bone minerals and weaken your bones.
Common signs of osteoporosis are back pain, a hunched posture and your height may seem to have decreased. It’s best to see a doctor so that he or she can conduct a bone-density test to calculate the mineral density of your bones.
By the time you experience back pain due to osteoporosis, the problem has become quite severe. You’ll need to take immediate measures to arrest bone loss.
• Calcium supplements
You’ll need to get a calcium supplement that has about 500 mg of calcium per tablet. Take 3 tablets daily. The difference between prevention and treatment is that with prevention, you could just eat broccoli and other calcium rich foods.
Once you already have the problem, you really need to get your daily intake. Trying to get your calcium from normal food is difficult because you’ll need to consume a lot of food just to give you the same amount of calcium that you can get from a pill.
So, just get a high-quality calcium supplement from a reputable health store and you should be good to go.
• Vitamin D
You’ll need to get a vitamin D supplement to aid in the absorption of the calcium. Without sufficient vitamin D in your system, most of the calcium you consume will be excreted. Your doctor will be the best person to advise you here.
• Resistance training
The MOST important and powerful weapon for battling osteoporosis is resistance training. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when your bones are frail. However, the truth of the matter is that when you exercise against gravity, your bones and ligaments get stronger.
Weight training does not just build muscle mass. It also strengthens your bones. While cardio training such as walking, running, etc. help to keep you in shape and preserve bone mass, nothing comes close to resistance training.
You would do well to join a gym or even just use weights at home to work your muscles. Squats, deadlifts, push-ups, rows, etc. are all excellent exercises that will strengthen your bones.
By following the 3 tips above, you’ll help to halt the advance of osteoporosis. You’ll feel better, and the exercise will make you stronger and fitter. The endorphins released during training will also act as a form of pain relief.
Your doctor may recommend treatments such as vertebroplasty, etc. So, be well-informed and do your own research before making a wise decision.