Senior Health:Factors That Weaken Bones
Certain people are in danger of bone loss through no fault of their own. For example, they may have predetermined traits that put them at risk such as family history, small build, gender (e.g. female), race (Caucasian), and age (post-menopausal women). Concurrently, smoking, inadequate calcium or vitamin D intake, and too much alcohol could add to the problem. However, a number of us might not realize that seemingly unrelated behaviors can also contribute to thinning bones. Let’s look at some of the more obscure culprits.
- Cortisone drugs. Long-term use of cortisone drugs like Prednisone can deplete certain nutrients from the body, including bone-strengthening minerals and vitamins like calcium and vitamin D. Steroid-based drugs can also affect hormone levels. If you have been taking cortisone drugs for an extended period, be sure to discuss bone-strengthening options with your doctor to help deter this consequence.
- Sodium. Most health experts frown upon excess salt, particularly if a person has high blood pressure. Yet, some studies have shown that too much salt may also be a factor in bone mineral loss. Even people who refrain from table salt could be at risk because sodium exists in everything from fast food to processed meats. What to do? Eat freshly-made meals whenever possible and minimize high-sodium soups, deli fare, and salty snacks.
- Soda. It’s doubtful anyone would promote soda as a health drink, but most people believe the less-pleasant characteristic of this liquid resides in its sugar content. Nonetheless, soft drinks also contain carbonation, and this process can accelerate calcium depletion. Consequently, limit soft drinks as much as possible and choose healthier alternatives like purified water.
- Vitamin A. What? Well, too much of something good can be bad. Vitamin A is great for our eyes and keeping healthy, but we sometimes get adequate amounts from the foods we eat. Vitamin A supplements could push sufficient levels into a surplus category, and this may have a negative effect on bone integrity. Vitamin A intake should normally be below 5,000 IUs; if you are getting more than that in your daily diet, consider reducing the amount.
- Eating disorders. People who have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia could be at greater risk for bone loss for a couple of reasons. One, because food is being restricted or expelled, the individual may not get the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to keep bones strong. At the same time, eating disorders tend to negatively affect hormone levels. The result? The body’s ability to build bone becomes compromised.
- Bisphosphonate drugs. Bisphosphonates (like Fosamax) can slow and even reverse bone loss. Still, when taken in high doses over an extended timeframe, the effect could be counterproductive. Drugs in this class have proven to be very beneficial for people with osteoporosis; even so, some people taking the medication for long periods have experienced jaw problems and even femur fractures. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor about the potential hazards of long-term bisphosphonate use.
Bone loss can occur for a multitude of reasons. Luckily, some measures are within our control. Keep on top of the latest bone-preserving info, and you can help your body stay as strong as possible.