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Do You Know Osteoporosis?

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. You make think you don’t need to worry about osteoporosis yet, but think again…

Here in America’s Dairyland, you might expect that we all take in plenty of calcium resulting in GREAT bones!  But the truth is many of us develop osteoporosis in later life and suffer from broken bones or worse.  Please read on, even if you are decades away from concerns about brittle bones or hip fractures because NOW may be when you can make a real difference in your future.

Think of your bones as a bank account, where you make “deposits” and “withdrawals” of bone tissue. During early childhood and through adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn, so the skeleton grows in size and density. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys. The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton, known as bone mass, can keep growing until around age 30. At that point, bones have reached their maximum strength and density, known as peak bone mass. This is why it is so critical that children and adolescents get enough calcium and that, as adults, we do not skimp on dairy foods to cut out calories in our diets.

Most women go through rapid bone loss in the first few years after menopause, which you have a chance to change some of the risk factors you may have for osteoporosis. Make sure to get enough calcium-rich foods and vitamin D in your daily diet. Be sure to get regular weight bearing exercise because that strengthens your bones. Also,avoid chronic alcohol use, as well as tobacco, because both these habits affect your bone density.

We should all be aware of the risk factors we cannot change because “knowledge is power.” It is tempting to think that we can worry about this when we get older, but now is the time to know and to act. For more information on bone health and risk factors, please visit the NIH Osteoporosis National Resource Center.

For more information about Medicare’s coverage of bone mass measurements, please visit the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To learn more about National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, please visit The National Osteoporosis Foundation website.

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