Osteoporosis and aging are almost synonyms for many people. As you age, your bones get brittle. That’s basically common knowledge. But, why does that happen? Is it true? There’s plenty of evidence to back up the claims.
One of the benefits of exercise for aging is osteoporosis prevention. And, menopause is more evidence of the link. However, why can osteoporosis show up in children? Does that mean age isn’t a factor?
Well, it’s not that simple. If you’re interested in answering those and more questions, keep reading!
Is age an osteoporosis risk factor?
The short answer is “Yes, age is a risk factor.” But, it’s not as simple as saying that they’re equal. You can age and not develop osteoporosis. You could also develop it earlier than your 50s.
Likewise, you need to cover other risk factors. Some of the most common include:
- Family history of osteoporosis or fractures.
- Bad eating habits.
- Lacking physical activity.
- Tobacco smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol.
Some of these factors worsen as we get older. For instance, many people exercise less with age. They could also fall into poor eating habits out of convenience. Therefore, age doesn’t just feed osteoporosis. Osteoporosis and aging are also about other risk factors.
And, that’s why the answer can get complicated.
The basics of osteoporosis and aging
But, we can’t ignore aging’s direct effects on our bones. Luckily, this study has a great summary. Essentially, it’s all about how our bodies process and maintain bone mass. So, how does that work?
Simplified, our organism has a special type of cells. Their role is to “update” our bones. They take old bone mass and break it down. With those minerals, they generate new bone. As such, our bone structure is constantly renovating.
Until we’re around 25, we generate more bone than we discard. That means our bone density increases. From there, until we’re 50, it stays stable. Yet, after 50, bone breakdown outpaces formation. So, we suffer bone loss.
Osteoporosis prevalence in older adults
Now, how common is osteoporosis with aging? Unsurprisingly, it’s quite high. After all, our organism plays against us in this sense. Luckily, this study breaks down how prevalent it is. And, it also dives into a few risk factors.
Overall, the study found a 21.7% osteoporosis prevalence in the elderly. The study also divides this into subgroups. Said subgroups, and their prevalence, were Asia (14.3%), Europe (16.7%), and the USA (11.5%).
Moreover, the study found that people with functional defects were at a higher risk. Other risk factors include low vitamin D and calcium intake. Little sun exposure was also relevant. However, smoking was a bit more nuanced. Only heavy smoking (over 20 daily cigarettes) appeared as problematic.
How can you tackle osteoporosis and aging?
So, what can you do to prevent aging’s effects on osteoporosis? Let’s see what Hopkins Medicine has to say. As a side note, the earlier you take these steps, the better. I’ll summarize the tips below:
- Make sure you get enough calcium. Before 50, you need one gram per day. After that, it bumps up to 1.2.
- Likewise, increase your vitamin D intake. Food, supplements, and the Sun are the main sources.
- Potassium and protein are also key macronutrients for healthy bones.
- Focus on weight-bearing workouts, like walking, aerobics, and weights.
- Watch out for caffeine and alcohol. Both can reduce bone density when drunk in excess.
- Finally, quit smoking. Sure, heavy smoking is the main factor. But, regular smoking can also increase fracture healing time and complications.
The holistic takeaway
There’s a reason why osteoporosis and aging are a famous couple. Aging directly changes our bone density. But, it also increases the influence of other risk factors. Luckily, that means you can do a lot to prevent its effects.
That takes me to today’s recommendation: The Bone Density Solution. It’s a complete exercise program focused on osteoporosis. So, make sure to check it out!