Millions of Americans – 54 million to be exact – have low bone density or osteoporosis. In fact, about one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. The disease causes an estimated two million broken bones every year.
While osteoporosis is common among white women, men and women of all races can have the disease. Also, while the disease is more common in older people, it can strike at any age.
Broken bones in people over the age of 50 can be the first sign of low bone density or osteoporosis. Broken bones from serious falls or accidents are often related to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is commonly called a “silent disease.” Often, breaking a bone is the first clue you have osteoporosis. Some people learn that they have osteoporosis after they lose height from one or more broken bones in the spine. These broken bones can even occur without any noticeable pain.
Experts recommend a bone mineral density test using a central DXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) machine. It is simple, painless, takes 5-10 minutes and uses very little radiation. You are exposed to 10-15 times more radiation from flying in a plane roundtrip between New York and San Francisco.
Children and teens can build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis by being physically active and getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
Even if you drink plenty of milk and exercise, you still may be at risk for osteoporosis. There are many risk factors for osteoporosis - some you can control and some you can't.
Broken bones from osteoporosis can be very painful and serious. Broken bones can affect physical, mental and emotional health, and in some cases, result in death. It is important to take steps throughout your life to protect your bones.
Taking more calcium than you need does not provide any extra benefits. Estimate the amount of calcium you get from foods on a typical day to determine whether a supplement is right for you. Find out how much calcium you need.
Vitamin D helps your body use calcium. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, or if your body doesn’t absorb it well, you are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and is also available in a few foods. However, many people need a vitamin D supplement. Find out how much vitamin D you need and if a supplement is right for you.