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Bone Composition

Bone is a living, growing tissue (It is not a hard, lifeless mass as some people may believe). It made of the following main components:

Collagen: A form of protein that makes a flexibility framework for the bone

Calcium phosphate: It gives strength and hardness to the bone.

Bone growth, loss and renewal

Just as other tissues of the body, bones are also continuously renewed. Old bone tissue is broken down and removed and new bone tissue is laid out to replace the old. During childhood and teenage, the formation of new bone is faster than the removal of the old bone - so the total bone mass continues to grow, peaking around the age of 30. After the age of 30, bone loss may become greater than bone growth, leading to weakening of bones. This happens more during midlife. For women, bone loss becomes faster after menopause, due to decreased estrogen levels.

What is Osteoporosis?

The literal meaning of osteoporosis is "porous bone", which accurately describes the condition. In this condition, your bones lose their mass, become less dense and hence weak and brittle. This can lead to easy fractures, by minor falls and impacts.

What is Osteopenia?

This is a condition when your bone density is lower than normal, but not as low as to qualify for osteoporosis.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

In most cases, osteopenia and osteoporosis have no symptoms. Often, a fracture is the first symptom of osteoporosis.

Diagnosis is through "bone density test", an X-ray test that measures how dense your bones are.

Risk Factors

·  A diet low in calcium and/or vitamin D

·  Sedentary lifestyle

·  Smoking/Tobacco use

·  Being a woman

·  Age over 50

·  Being too thin: BMI less than 19

·  White or Asian Race

·  Hormone levels: High thyroid level, Low estrogen level for women, low testosterone level for men

Prevention of Osteoporosis and Osteopenia

The risk factors listed above make it obvious that you can take the following actions to prevent or slow down bone loss:

·  Have a calcium rich diet. The recommended daily calcium intake for adults (as per US RDA) is: 1000 mg. for males less than 70 years or females less than 50 years and 1200 mg. for males older than 70 years or females older than 50 years.

·  Ensure adequate levels of Vitamin D intake. The recommended levels are 600 IU for adults up to the age of 70 and 800 IU after the age of 70, for both males and females.

·  Be physically active: For bone strengthening, weight bearing exercises are the best such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs, weight lifting, etc.

·   Avoid smoking/tobacco use

·   Avoid alcohol consumption, or do not consume more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.

·   Get bone density test done and get your doctor's advice if it is not normal.