Too often, serious health conditions are dismissed as a normal part of aging. But staying healthy as you age is not only possible, it can be a goal you actively work toward throughout life. And these days, there are more ways than ever before to fortify your body for the years ahead.
Osteoporosis is a prime example of this phenomenon. While the risk of osteoporosis increases with age, significant loss of bone density, fragility, and fractures are not inevitable—and the consequences of this condition are too dangerous to ignore. For both men and women, implementing smart strategies to reduce the risk of osteoporosis as early as possible can make a meaningful difference in your health as you age.
Whether you are recognizing possible signs of osteoporosis—such as posture changes, loss of height, body aches, or fractures—or you notice no signs at all, it’s never too early to start caring for your bone health. By combining powerful solutions such as revitalizing exercise with supplements of vitamins, minerals, and hormones that help to regulate bone formation and resorption will give you the best chance at maintaining bone density in the long term. The groundwork you lay today could have a lasting impact on your quality of life for years to come.
Understanding the Impact of Osteoporosis
The deterioration and weakening of bone tissue caused by osteoporosis can be devastating. In the early stages, it can also be largely invisible, and you might not know that you are experiencing this progressive condition until you face a serious injury. This belated awareness is part of what makes osteoporosis such a significant public health threat. There may be important lifestyle and treatment choices that can reduce your risk of osteoporosis complications, but for too many people, the dangers amass as the body silently weakens.
Women, more often than men, tend to have osteoporosis on their radars—but as a future risk. However, your bones reach peak mass when you are in your 20s. After about age 30, you are unlikely to gain any more bone mass. Then, it is up to your body to renew your bones and counter factors that might compromise bone strength. Without preventive action, bone will eventually begin to break down faster than the body can regenerate, making you vulnerable to fractures.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will endure osteoporotic fractures, which can be painful, slow to heal, and limit mobility. Osteoporosis can also affect your posture and make you lose height. The earlier you mitigate the risks of skeletal deterioration, the better you can prevent injuries that often have cascades of repercussions. Greater physical resilience can keep you from missing out on life in later years.
Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis
Your bones are living tissue, susceptible to environmental influences in and outside of the body. Remembering this can help you develop a healthy respect for your body’s daily needs and feel empowered to take an active role in disease prevention and recovery.
So what can you do to slow the loss of bone mass? Commonly observed strategies call for:
- Calcium and vitamin D supplementation. While a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D mitigates fracture risk, supplements can also be a critical part of prevention. A 2017 meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation found that combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation can reduce your risk of total fractures by 15% and your risk of hip fractures by 30%.
- Weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise increases bone mineral density by stimulating the rebuilding process, which is why it’s widely regarded as one of the most important forms of exercise for aging adults.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is known to significantly decrease bone mineral density and disproportionately increase the risk of fractures. Although the exact mechanism behind these effects is not fully understood, quitting smoking may begin to reverse some of the adverse effects on the bones.
In addition to these general preventive measures, you may have personal risk factors that you can address.
Hormone Therapy May Offer Powerful Osteoporosis Prevention
Although a multitude of factors may influence the advancement of osteoporosis, hormonal changes may be a fundamental component. For both men and women, sex hormones may be a particularly powerful influence due to their role in growth and development. More specifically, when sex hormones are not at optimal levels, the body’s ability to renew bone mass may be limited. In fact, you may be doing all of the above—supplementing your diet with bone-building elements, exercising to stimulate bone rehabilitation, and staying away from cigarette smoke—but your body could still be at risk of osteoporosis complications if it is struggling against insufficient hormone levels. So, what are your options? For many, the best option may be hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
For both men and women, estrogen is the primary manager of bone metabolism. As women age, the natural decline of estrogen that comes with age dramatically increases the risk of osteoporosis, and women who experience natural or surgical menopause prior to the age of 45 are particularly vulnerable. Supplementing low estrogen levels via HRT revitalizes the body’s ability to maintain healthy bone mass and density, lowering the dangers associated with falls and other potential injuries. But timing matters. To most effectively use estrogen therapy as a prevention strategy, researchers have found that treatment should be initiated within 10 years of menopause or before the age of 60. Additionally, discontinuation of HRT should be carefully planned, as women who stop abruptly see their risk of osteoporotic fractures rise again. However, HRT does not have to be discontinued just because a woman has reached a particular age.
While estrogen regulates bone health in women and men, testosterone also plays an important role. In fact, testosterone deficiency in men can lead to low bone mineral density and is a prime factor in osteoporotic risk. Research indicates that testosterone replacement therapy may help prevent the development of osteoporosis in men with low testosterone and may be used to treat osteoporosis in hypogonadal men (men with low testosterone) who have already developed the condition.
If you are experiencing low estrogen or low testosterone and are concerned about bone health, an experienced hormone replacement practitioner can help you determine the best HRT treatment regimen for your needs.
Living a Bone-Healthy Lifestyle
Osteoporosis doesn’t simply have to be a fact of life. You can support your body in its natural rehabilitative efforts. By approaching your bone health proactively with thoughtful lifestyle changes and interventions like hormone replacement therapy, you allow your body to rebuild. Partnering with a practitioner who specializes in integrative medicine and who can develop a personalized preventive strategy is a perfect start to this journey. Over time, your body may become better able to regenerate bone at a rate that slows deterioration and prolongs your active life.
If you want to know more about how to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, BodyLogicMD can help. The practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network are committed to finding progressive solutions to protecting your health and quality of life using an innovative combination of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, nutrition advice, and lifestyle counseling. For a closer look at how hormones influence your health and wellness, take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz, or contact a local practitioner to take proactive steps toward a healthier future today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.