Bone Health Tips

Know Your Density

A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis won't provide much help in determining your true risk of fracture, and knowing that risk is essential to making decisions about the best course of treatment. The DXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan is the gold standard, but request that your doctor also reviews your FRAX score with you. The FRAX calculator comes from the World Health Organization and will better assess your risk of fracture and help guide treatment options.

Strength Train

It's not always correct that, as Nietzsche said "That which does not kill us makes is stronger." But physical stresses that stay within proper bounds do indeed build muscle and bone strength. This is best done through regular strength training. The most productive stresses come from heavy weights that are moved by the whole body. Work with a trainer or exercise professional to add deadlifts or squats to your routine. You may start using just your body's weight and eventually work up to using weighted balls, kettlebells or free weights.

Beware Bisphosphonates

Filling a new prescription for a kind of drug known as a bisphosphonate may not be your best bone health strategy. These are medications that, while decreasing your fracture risk, appear to have rare but serious side effects. An increased risk of osteonecrosis - bone tissue death - of the jaw has been associated with this class of medication. Be sure to evaluate your true risk of fracture with your doctor and discuss lifestyle alternatives that may be tried before using this class of medication. If a bisphosphonate is chosen, make sure you have a thorough dental exam before starting.

Drink Wisely

Be sure and drink to bone health. Bones are dynamic, living tissues and need to be nourished. Food sources like dark green vegetables, canned sardines and full-fat dairy products (for those who tolerate dairy) will help provide the building blocks needed for strong bones. On the other hand, studies show that excess alcohol or coffee consumption – probably due to their diuretic effect, promoting calcium loss – can over time make you more prone to fracture. 

Leave Table Salt on the Table

Excess sodium consumption has been shown to have a harmful effect on bone integrity. Make cutting out high-sodium foods part of your bone-building plan. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the top sources of sodium in the diet in descending order are bread and rolls, cold cuts, pizza, soups and sandwiches. Salt is both a preservative and a way to add flavor to cheap foods, so it's commonly overused in these processed products. Know that making things from scratch allows you to control the sodium content.