Many people are under the impression that bone loss belongs only to the elderly.  An image of bent, fragile ladies hobbling from place to place has caused many misconceptions surrounding the condition.  While in reality, building bone starts decades before a fracture ever appears.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 90% of all bone mass has already formed by the time a young woman reaches her 17th birthday.  Whether or not osteoporosis develops later in life has several risk factors, but the early years of bone development are key to future outcomes.  At a time when soda is more appealing than milk and teens turn their noses up at spinach to reach for a hamburger, most women are not looking or thinking ahead about their future bone health.

Sometimes called “brittle bones”, osteoporosis affects the strength of these supporting structures throughout the body—releasing strengthening minerals out of the bone leaving tiny holes behind.  These tiny holes weaken the body’s ability to bear weight and withstand impact from even normal daily activities.  Most well-known for hip fractures, osteoporosis may also result in injuries to the spinal column or the wrists.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include having  a small frame, being Caucasian, family history and your age.  Some risk factors cannot be changed, and others can.  If you smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, or drink alcohol, work to change those habits and improve your health.

Increasing calcium intake is also important for strong bones.  For younger women, ensuring an adequate diet of calcium-rich foods is essential.  Calcium supplements and vitamin D can also play a key role in preventing osteoporosis as well. Don’t overlook the need to move—walking, swimming and light weights are all great ways to help the body pull strength-building minerals like calcium from the blood stream, back into the bones where they belong.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends screenings for osteoporosis starting at age 65 or earlier if you have risk factors or a significant family history of the disease.  When we are young we often forget to think about prevention—dismissing lifestyle choices as something to “change later”.

Improving your lifestyle and boosting your body’s ability to repair itself can be accomplished through a healthy lifestyle, quality medical screenings and great supplementation.  Dr. Hessel is now offering high-quality calcium supplements available through this site, to be shipped right to your door.  To find out if you are a good candidate for calcium supplementation, or to schedule your osteoporosis screening click here to make an appointment.  And remember—it’s never too early to start planning, so you can start preventing.