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Start preventing osteoporosis now

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones weaken to a point of making them brittle. It may only take a small bump or fall for bones affected by osteoporosis to fracture. The National Institute on Aging says osteoporosis is a 'silent disease' because people who develop it may not notice any changes until a bone breaks. Typically a hip, spine or wrist are the areas of the body where these fractures occur.

Johns Hopkins Medicine says that 50 percent of women in the United States age 50 or older will break a bone due to osteoporosis, and about 55 million Americans have the condition. Osteoporosis affects women more often than men, particularly because women have lower bone density than men. Loss of estrogen in the later years of life can increase a woman's risk for osteoporosis.

The good news is that osteoporosis is largely preventable, and proper bone health that begins early and lasts throughout life can help.

• Sucient calcium intake: Women age 50 and younger should consume 1,000 mg of calcium each day (1,200 mg of calcium each day is recommended for women over the age of 51). Calcium can come from foods, beverages and supplements.

• Proper protein intake: Protein also

is a necessary nutrient for bone health, says the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Choose lean protein sourc es.

• Get enough vitamin D: Vitamin D is made in the skin after exposure to the sun, but the average person does not get enough. Supplementation often is the answer to ensure healthy levels of vitamin D and by eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as eggs, mushrooms and fortified dairy foods or juices.

• Keep active: It is important to en gage in regular weight-bearing and muscle- strengthening activities, which also helps to strengthen bones.

• Maintain a healthy weight: Main taining a healthy weight also is important, as being too thin or having a BMI under 19 is harmful to bone health.

• Prevent falls: Take steps to reduce falls. This includes removing slippery rugs and installing grab bars in the bathroom. In addition, engage in activities that can improve balance, posture and coordination to prevent fall risk.

• Get screened for bone density: A bone mineral density test is a special Xray capable of detecting bone loss.

Women who are concerned about osteoporosis are urged to speak with their doctors to learn more about prevention and treatment.

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