MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH A. SWICK, MS, RDN

What Factors Accelerate Osteoporosis and How Can I Combat This Silent Disease?

What Factors Accelerate Osteoporosis and How Can I Combat This Silent Disease?

Osteoporosis is incredibly common, affecting more than ten million Americans. Older adults are especially likely to suffer from at least some degree of low bone density, with an estimated 53.6 percent of adults aged 50 and older having either osteoporosis or osteopenia (a milder form of bone loss that can progress into osteoporosis). 

As a result of their bone loss, about half of American adults over age 50 are at increased risk of bone fractures and would benefit from lifestyle changes aimed at building bone density. This can help to prevent many of the most severe consequences of osteoporosis, including difficulty walking, chronic pain, and microscopic fractures in the spine that may result in a hunched posture known as kyphosis or a dowager’s hump.

Since early symptoms of osteoporosis may be virtually nonexistent or extremely hard to detect, osteoporosis is classified as a “silent disease.” This means that osteoporosis can progress in severity without the sufferer or their doctors noticing until the damage has already been done. Thus, in addition to remaining vigilant for osteoporosis symptoms, those with any reason to be concerned about the condition should rely on bone density test results to track their bone health. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to combat this silent disease without medication, simply through healthy lifestyle choices and adequate nutrition. 

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Those with osteoporosis risk factors should be especially vigilant about having regular bone density screenings done.

Age and Hormonal Changes

Women over the age of 65, who have already experienced menopause, and who haven’t menstruated for six months or more, are commonly at a higher risk of bone loss than the remainder of the population.

Poor Nutrition and Diet Deficiencies

A diet lacking sufficient nutrients, especially calcium and vitamin D (both essential for maintaining bone density), may contribute significantly to developing osteopenia and eventual osteoporosis. Being underweight (defined in clinical terms as a BMI of less than 18.5) also increases one’s risk of poor bone density.

Sedentary Lifestyle and Lack of Exercise

A lack of physical activity has been demonstrated to contribute to decreased bone mass. 

Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Two of the most common vices, cigarette smoking, and alcohol abuse, can be bad for bone health. 

Smoking cigarettes decreases the body’s production of osteoblasts, cells that are thought to create new bone and that maintain existing bone. It is also thought to reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium from food. Because smoking may reduce estrogen levels, it may also harm bone density on a hormonal level. 

Drinking large amounts of alcohol is also associated with osteoporosis, possibly due to reduced absorption of essential nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium, as well as hormonal deficiencies.

Medications and Medical Conditions

Numerous medications, including corticosteroids, SSRIs, proton pump inhibitors, anti-androgen medications, some seizure medications, loop diuretics, and anti-estrogen medications, may cause bone loss that negatively impacts bone strength as well.

How to Combat Osteoporosis Without Medication

Although having some of the risk factors listed above and worrying about the risk of having osteoporosis can be alarming, there are evidence-based ways to help prevent osteoporosis and improve bone density, even without prescription medications. The most beneficial approaches include improved nutrition, regular physical activity, and other healthy lifestyle changes, as well as taking carefully formulated supplements that may help to increase bone mass.

Since having a healthy lifestyle may make a significant difference in the progression of bone density loss, many of these non-medication approaches to osteoporosis management involve lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. Some supplements have been shown to measurably improve bone health.

Nutrition and Dietary Recommendations

The best diet for osteoporosis prevention emphasizes consuming the optimum amount of calcium, vitamin D3 and eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein. 

Calcium-Rich Foods

Because bone tissue consists of about 65 percent calcium, consuming calcium for osteoporosis may be essential. The recommended daily intake of calcium ranges for most from about 1,000 to 1,200 mg, with those at an elevated risk of osteoporosis aiming for the higher end of this range. Some of the best food sources of calcium are dairy products, tofu, and greens such as kale.

Vitamin D Sources

In addition to calcium, vitamin D3 is thought to be one of the best vitamins to help ward off osteoporosis because of its ability to help the body to absorb calcium from food. For those under the age of 70, 600 IU of vitamin D3 is an excellent daily goal, while those who are 70+ years old may benefit most from aiming for about 800 IU per day. The best food sources of vitamin D3 include liver, fatty fish such as tuna, sardines, and salmon, plus mushrooms, and vitamin D-fortified milk. 

Regular Exercise and Physical Activity

Lack of exercise may be a significant risk factor for osteoporosis, so it’s essential to incorporate physical activity into your osteoporosis prevention plan.

Weight-Bearing Exercises

Weight-bearing exercises are typically the most effective for osteoporosis prevention and management. This type of exercise puts mild stress on the bones, stimulating further calcium deposits and encouraging osteoblasts to form new bone tissue which often leads to an increase in bone density and strength. Some of the most common and most recommended weight-bearing aerobic exercises include walking, running, dancing, jumping rope, tennis, and stair climbing.

Clean Up Your Lifestyle

Quit Smoking

As previously stated, smoking commonly decreases osteoblast production, typically reduces dietary calcium absorption, and frequently lowers estrogen levels, all of which may contribute to bone loss. Anyone who cares about their health should quit smoking right away, but those at risk of osteoporosis have much more of a reason to quit.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

For those who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol, osteoporosis may be one of many possible outcomes of this unhealthy behavior. Moderating one’s alcohol consumption or quitting drinking alcohol entirely may help to protect one’s bone density going forward.

Osteoporosis Supplements

The best supplement for osteoporosis is InnerThera’s Osteo Plus, which has been formulated with four scientifically proven ingredients that work synergistically to support bone and joint health and strength, and contains:

Olive Leaf Extract

Osteo Plus supplements feature a form of olive leaf extract known as Bonolive®, which has been demonstrated to guard against bone loss by encouraging osteoblast activity. Olive leaf extract may also reduce joint pain and inflammation and help to increase calcium absorption. 

Calcium

Binding two calcium molecules to one molecule of malic acid, Albion® calcium malate is commonly easier for the body to absorb and utilize than most other types of calcium.

Vitamin D

Consider taking Osteo Plus for 313 percent of the daily recommended intake of plant-based vitamin D3 to ensure that your body can absorb the calcium you consume in this supplement and through your regular diet.

Vitamin K

K2Vital® Delta is a stable form of vitamin K, that’s formulated for high bioavailability, making it easy for the body to absorb and utilize it. To protect vitamin K2 from the harsh environment of the gut and prevent it from breaking down too early, K2Vital® Delta is also double coated.

Discuss your supplement intake with your physician as you decide whether to add Osteo Plus to your daily supplement regimen. A qualified medical professional may confirm that Osteo Plus is an appropriate and beneficial choice for your unique dietary needs.