Our bones are alive... and much more complex and in need of nutrition than originally thought. While it occurs to us to think about bone loss as we age, the majority of our youth today are deficient in calcium and bone building nutrients.
Healthy bones form the foundation for a vital, energetic life. Our skeletons confer mobility, flexibility, mechanical support, and serve as a calcium reservoir, which the body draws upon to help maintain consistent levels of calcium in the blood. Building and maintaining healthy bones throughout life requires an intricate interplay among several physiological and lifestyle factors.
Although bones often are viewed as inert, they really are dynamic, living tissue. Bones are built primarily of a collagen-protein framework, which makes them flexible, and mineralized calcium phosphate, which makes them strong and rigid. This combination allows bones to withstand considerable mechanical stress.
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disorder encountered in clinical practice, according to an October 1997 report by Mayo Clinic researchers. According to them, "It is also one of the most important diseases facing our aging population."
There was a time when physicians viewed osteoporosis as an inevitable part of the aging process, completely out of our control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Osteoporosis is not a "normal" part of aging. In fact, it can be prevented and treated effectively.
Other Bone Diseases
Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a painful, deforming bone disease characterized by undermineralization of the skeleton. In the past, rickets was fairly common but was virtually eradicated after routine vitamin D fortification of most milk products in the1930s. According to several recent reports, however, rickets is again on the rise and vitamin D supplementation may be prudent especially for dark-skinned infants who are exclusively breast-fed and not exposed to sufficient sunlight.
The result is a widespread emergence of osteoporosis in adults under forty years of age. In addition to this startling discovery, research has placed degenerative joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis, as being widespread.
Nearly 50% of healthy women are at an increased risk of bone breakdown. Besides being female, other risk factors include having a small frame, fair complexion, family history of bone conditions, sedentary lifestyle, consumption of alcohol, hormone imbalances, and a diet low in fats.
Modifiable factors that increase risk for bone loss:
Cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse
Medications such as some types of anticonvulsants or glucocorticoids (corticosteroids, prednisone, dexamethasone)
Low levels of estrogen in women or low levels of testosterone in men.
Non-modifiable factors that increase risk forbone loss:
Gender. Women are at greater risk than men.
Age. Bone loss increases with age.
Body size. Small, thin women are more susceptible than larger women.
Ethnicity and heredity. Caucasian and Asian women are at greatest risk.
African-American and Hispanic women have a lower but still significant risk.
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