Holland Hospital believes you are your own best health advocate and encourages you to talk to your doctor about your bone health. Ask whether you are a candidate for a bone mineral density (BMD) test. Depending on your test results, your doctor may indicate that the Holland Hospital Bone Health Services Bone Strength Program is right for you.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is a measurement of the concentration of minerals (mostly calcium and phosphate) in your bones that are vital to their strength. A high bone mineral density indicates above-average amounts of calcium and phosphates in your bones, while a below-normal bone mineral density can indicate a loss of bone mass, possibly leading to osteopenia or osteoporosis.
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, or if you or your health care provider believe you have risk factors for osteoporosis, the bone strength program can help. Treatments, including lifestyle changes, exercise therapy and the use of medication where appropriate, have been shown to substantially lower the risk of fragility fractures in patients with osteoporosis.
How the Bone Strength Program Helps Prevent and Treat Osteoporosis
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, medical experts agree that it is highly preventable. Diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle can improve bone strength and slow or even reverse bone loss.
Diet is very important to bone development.
- Bone health starts with adequate amounts of vitamin D. This is because your body cannot absorb calcium and other minerals without it. Vitamin D is found in eggs, salmon, sardines, swordfish, and some fish oils. It's also added to milk and can be taken as a supplement. In addition to what you take in from food, your body makes vitamin D in response to sunlight.
- After vitamin D, calcium is the most critical mineral for bone mass. It offers powerful protection against fractures. The best sources of calcium are milk and other dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified juices, breads and cereals.
- Experts recommend that men and women get about 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D per day. After menopause, women should increase their calcium intake to 1300 mg per day.
- Your doctor may recommend you to take a supplement that combines calcium and vitamin D.
Exercise is important in maintaining strong bones because bone forms in response to the stress of weight-bearing activities such as:
- Stair climbing
- Lifting weights
- Using elastic resistance bands.
Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about starting an exercise program to improve your bone density while giving you extra strength, agility and better balance for preventing falls.
Healthy lifestyle choices can contribute to bone loss. Women who smoke have a significantly greater chance of losing bone mass. Excessive consumption of alcohol or soft drinks can also weaken bones.
You can lower your risk of osteoporosis by improving your diet. Eating and drinking calcium-rich foods, such as milk, provides your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain bone strength. Beginning a program of weight-bearing exercise—from walking to strength training—can also help strengthen your bones.
Medications are available to treat bone thinning, but these are more commonly used if you have progressed past osteopenia to the more serious condition of osteoporosis. Medications that may be used for osteoporosis include bisphosphonates, raloxifene and hormone replacement.