7 Important Facts About Osteoporosis

Have you ever noticed older people with stooped shoulders or bent backs? Have you seen the commercials with an old lady falling and breaking a hip? Or perhaps you remember commercials telling you to drink more milk for stronger bones. Many people know that calcium has something to do with bones and posture and osteoporosis but don’t understand how it relates to their body.

Before we talk about osteoporosis, let’s learn more about your bones. Most people think of their bones as being sturdy, strong and never changing. However, your bones are constantly losing bone mass and then remaking new bone. When you are young, your body makes more bone than is broken down, so you actually increase your bone mass. As you age, production of new bone material slows. Your bone mass will naturally decrease. When this happens, your body must call upon its stores of previously made bone mass to make more bone.

This is where calcium comes in. Your body uses this mineral to make new bone mass. However, your body doesn’t make calcium, so it relies on your diet to make up for the missing mineral. Calcium is also used throughout your body for different functions like sending messages through the nervous system, regulating heart rate, and helping your muscles contract. If your body cannot get enough calcium for these functions, it will take the calcium from your bones. This will become important later as we look at what exactly osteoporosis is and how it affects you specifically.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” Your bones become less dense as they lose mass, making them more porous, or full of tiny holes and cracks. This results in your bones being more spongy than hard. If you have lost too much bone mass at one time, or if your body cannot make enough new bone material to keep up with the loss, you will develop osteoporosis. This leads to bones becoming weak and brittle. If your bones remain this porous, they can easily break. Serious injuries involving broken bones can occur from something serious like a fall or hard bump. However, if bone loss is severe, even small movements like coughing, sneezing, and bending over can cause broken bones.

As your bone mass decreases, your body must work harder to make new bone tissue. If there is calcium available, your body will use it to restore bone mass. If there is a calcium deficit in your body, your bones are the first to lose it. This can lead to even more bone loss because your body must deplete the stores in the bones so it can perform more important tasks elsewhere. Remember, your bone mass naturally decreases as you age, so there is no way to stop that process. Instead, we must look at ways to prevent osteoporosis.