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October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day. This date climaxes the Bone and Joint Decade National Action Week (October 12-20) mandated by President George W. Bush in 2002. The event focuses on arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis and calls attention to prevention, management, and treatments. According to reports by the Bone and Joint Institute, musculoskeletal conditions affect millions worldwide and nearly half the American population over age eighteen. This malady is the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability.

Osteoporosis, referred to as a silent disease, occurs without symptoms. As many as ten million Americans have osteoporosis and thirty-four million more have low bone mass. Forty percent of women over age fifty can expect to suffer from at least one fracture as a result of this disease.

What can you do? Several lifestyle factors impact bone health. Smoking and the consumption of two to three ounces a day of alcohol may cause greater susceptibility for osteoporosis. Certain medications can lead to a loss of bone density and fractures.

Good nutrition is vital for bone health. Inadequate intakes of calcium contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium include milk and milk products, sardines and salmon, dark green vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, and spinach), and almonds. Some foods fortified with calcium include orange juice, cereals, and bread.

Vitamin D, important for calcium absorption and bone health, is found in liver, saltwater fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna), and egg yolks. Many people acquire Vitamin D through fortified milk. Sunshine, another source of Vitamin D, could prove less reliable, especially during winter months. Children and most adults need 600 IU/day while older adults need at least 800 IU daily.

In addition to nutrition, the skeleton needs exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, especially, make bones stronger.

It’s never too late to consider bone health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test identifies osteoporosis, measures bone loss, and determines risk for fractures. The test is painless. Early treatment of abnormalities may prevent easily fractured bones and pain plus the multiple expenses associated with this prevalent disease. Take care of those bones. You need them to last for a lifetime.

http://www.usbjd.org/projects/NAW_op.cfm

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/overview.asp

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