Osteopenia is weak bone density that isn’t severe enough to be osteoporosis; people with the condition graduate to the latter when the bones become so thin that they easily break. Generally, bone density peaks at around 35 years old, but a regular practice of healthy habits can serve as treatments for osteopenia and slow its progression toward osteoporosis.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Everyone should strive for a healthy lifestyle. Being healthy can improve every aspect of your life, so it goes without saying that a healthy lifestyle can keep your bones strong and lower your chance of developing osteoporosis. By improving diet and exercise, your bones will get stronger.
Most people think of exercise as a way to strengthen the muscles and lose weight, but it can also strengthen your bones. The exercises most helpful in this regard are ones that force your body to work against gravity, and they don’t have to be strenuous. A daily walk can improve health, as can other means of less-intensive cardio, such as dancing. Lifting weights and strength training can also help strengthen bones.
Milk really does do a body good. Strong bones need good sources of calcium and vitamin D to remain strong. Foods like yogurt, cheese, and milk can naturally increase your intake of calcium without the use of supplements. Similarly, green vegetables like broccoli and fish like sardines and bone-in salmon are also good sources of calcium. As for vitamin D, the body produces it when exposed to sunlight, and many foods contain or are fortified with the nutrient, including tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, and some cereals.
Give Up Smoking
Quitting smoking is a difficult task, but doing so can vastly improve quality of life, not to mention lifespan. Studies show there may be a link between smoking and lower bone density. If this is the case, stopping smoking could be one of the best ways to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Lower Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is part of many morning routines, but it can be detrimental to bone health by keeping calcium from improving bone density. Research links caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas to osteopenia. Cutting back on coffee or even just switching to decaf could reduce your chances of developing osteopenia.
In some cases, especially for patients who have already broken bones, physicians may prescribe medication for osteopenia. There are several medications on the market that can lower your chances of getting osteoporosis and even prevent fractures.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Despite the controversy surrounding it, HRT appears to be one of the best treatments for the improvement of bone growth. Because bone density starts to lower after the age of 35, it is highly likely this depletion is in some way related to hormonal changes.
Bisphosphonates are the dominant medical treatment that doctors use to prevent osteoporosis. Like hormone replacement therapy, studies show that they may reduce the risk of fractures. They may also give the patient a small boost in bone density or at least maintain the current density. Bisphosphonates work by slowing or stopping the body’s natural bone resorption and are usually taken in pill form. The medications appear to have few side effects, and often contain vitamin D and calcium, as well.
Much of the calcium or vitamin D the body makes comes from natural sources like sunlight and food. Doctors will usually recommend supplements if you have osteopenia and haven’t yet broken a bone. Most adults need between 1000-2000mg of calcium and 600-800 international units (UI) of vitamin D daily. They are available in most drugstores, but if you are taking any other medications or have other health concerns, speak to a doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen.
Most treatments for osteopenia involve lifestyle changes. Consuming alcohol in moderation — or abstaining completely — will make a positive difference in bone health. Most experts recommend consuming no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men, per day. Too much alcohol can deplete calcium levels and change how the body produces hormones or vitamins that maintain strong bones.