Bone density refers to the mineral level within the bones. Osteopenia is the term used when bone density is lower than it should be. As density in the bone decreases, the risk for injury to the bone with normal activity increases. Many factors play a part in bone health. Bone breaks down faster than the body can build new bone tissue as we age. Bone density can be increased by eating a healthy diet and exercising.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone is weakened to a point when an injury occurs easily with normal activity. Not all people with osteopenia progress to osteoporosis. Once diagnosed with osteopenia, your healthcare provider should recommend a diet higher in calcium and vitamin D, along with exercise. Your bone density should be monitored regularly.
Peak bone density occurs in the mid-thirties. Bone tissue builds more than the amount lost up to age 30. By age 35, bone loss or breakdown occurs faster than the rate of building new bone tissue. Women lose bone density much quicker with age and menopause than men do. Hormone production (estrogen) in women decreases after menopause, around the age of 50. While testosterone levels decrease in men, it is a slower process but can increase the risk of osteopenia around the age of 65.
Lifestyle can increase your risk for osteopenia. These include:
Certain health conditions increase your risk as well. These include:
Osteopenia does not cause symptoms until it progresses to osteoporosis. There is no bone pain or weakness noted. It is often discovered by bone mineral density testing. Bone density is measured by an X-ray called DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) or is otherwise called a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This test provides a T-score.
It is recommended for a DEXA test be done for:
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to treat osteopenia by building bone density. The amount of calcium intake a day should be 1200 mg. Foods high in calcium include:
*Of note, if taking a calcium supplement, the body can absorb only 600 mg at a time. It is recommended to take 600 mg twice a day.
Calcium is best absorbed when taken with vitamin D. The recommended daily amount is 800 units (IU, international units) which can be found in:
*Of note, spending time in the sun helps vitamin D absorption.
Exercise can strengthen and build bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is best. Weight-bearing exercises are considered to be those where your feet are on the ground. These include:
Medication to help build bone density with osteopenia is not always used unless osteopenia is close to becoming osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be recommended if diagnosed with osteopenia. Prescription medications that help increase bone density are-
Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is very important to prevent falls. Falls are the number 1 cause of injury to the bones for those with osteoporosis. You should take steps to reduce your risk of experiencing a fall.
If you happen to be diagnosed with osteopenia, talk with your doctor about regular bone density testing to monitor for osteopenia. That means you should have a DEXA scan every 2-3 years. Adjust your lifestyle to maintain a healthy diet and keep active. These will slow the progression of bone loss.
Author Profile: Christine Kijek, Registered Colorectal Nurse
Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.
When traditional oral intake is not feasible, enteral feeding comes into play. It supports nutritional needs of individuals recovering from an injury or surgery. Dive into this informative article and learn what, when, why, and how of enteral feeding and ensure optimal patient care.
Looking for a non-invasive option to manage carpal tunnel symptoms? Experience relief from constant tingling and pain with this Carpal Solution Wrist Support. Read this article to know about the unique features and benefits of this wrist support brace designed to deal with CTS and find why it is one of the most reliable wrist braces available on the market.
Need an effective and affordable nebulizer? Look no further, in this article we offer 5 of our best reviewed nebulizers that are loved by our customers. Click to read more and find the perfect nebulizer for all your respiratory needs.
Worried about nighttime leaks? Say goodbye to leakage with our ten best overnight adult diapers and wake up refreshed and dry.
Neck pain can wreak havoc on your otherwise healthy life. Traction device improves your cervical health and overall well-being. Read more to find our best cervical traction devices designed to curb the stiffness and discomfort of cervical muscles.