The shocking statistics – according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
10 million people in North America have osteoporosis.
80% of those affected by osteoporosis are women.
1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture as they age.
Following a hip fracture from osteoporosis, 1 in 4 people will die within a year (the death rate is twice as high for men as for women). Also, 1 in 4 will become complete invalids requiring long-term care.
Only one-third of the people suffering an osteoporosis-related hip fracture will heal and return to a normal life.
A childhood disease?
To understand the process of premature bone loss we must first understand the nature of bone. Your bones are alive. But every cell in your skeleton has a lifespan. It is "born" from stem cells, it lives for many years and then it dies. When it reaches the end of its lifespan, a new bone cell replaces it.
During our youth, there are more new bone cells being born than there are old bone cells dying. As a result, our bones get longer, bigger, denser and healthier. By our teen years our bones reach PMD (peak mineral density). Therefore, the healthier our bones are as children, the longer they will last as we age. Good nutrition during childhood is so important because we are building a healthy bone foundation for our senior years.
At about age 30 the rates of bone cells being born and those dying are about equal. By age 40 the pendulum definitely swings to the other side and the amount of bone cells dying every day exceeds the amount being born. Over time, your bones become thinner, less active and are more challenged to support your body.
Bones that thin too fast are called osteopenic. About 45 million people in North America suffer from bones that are too thin. When thinning continues to the point where a bone resembles Swiss cheese (full of holes and pores), the condition is said to be osteoporosis. The bone at this stage is diseased and can fracture with the slightest stress.
Reversing premature bone loss
The best way to reverse a problem is to help prevent it in the first place.
Children and adults up to age 30 should:
Take a calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D supplement every day.
Focus on leafy green vegetables as a dietary source of calcium and magnesium.
Get at least 20 minutes of direct sunshine on 40% of their body every day as a natural source of Vitamin D.
Adults over 30 should do the same things. However, bone-building requirements for adults (including supplements) need to be more rigorous. This is especially true if they have any risk factors for osteoporosis.
The good news is that you can add more new, healthy bone mass every year you follow these steps – no matter how old you are or how thin your bones are. Help turn back the clock on bone loss with proper lifestyle choices and intense nutrition.