Why Bone Density is Important
Bones form the skeletal structure of our bodies and provide strength and support to the musculoskeletal system. The strength of a bone is determined by calculating its bone density. Commonly referred to as BMD (bone mineral density), it refers to the amount of minerals, predominantly calcium, per square centimetre of the bone being examined.
Bones absorb calcium and other minerals from the diet. At the same time, they also lose minerals. The bones are at the peak of their strength when we reach the age of 30. Thereafter, the rate of bone loss overtakes the rate of new bone formation. This is a life-long process and by the time we reach our 60s, the bones tend to become weak. Osteoporosis of the brittle bone syndrome is the name given to the condition that makes bones weak and prone to fracture.
A number of factors affect bone density like lack of calcium consumption, deficiency of vitamin D which is the key to calcium absorption in the body. Another crucial thing to keep bones strong and healthy is exercise. To be more precise, weight bearing exercises. People who lead sedentary lives are more likely to suffer from weak bones.
BMD is usually measured by a method called DEXA scan. The DEXA scan gives a result in the form of a score called T-score. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined various levels that enable the determination of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic patients have a BMD of T-score, —2.5 or lower, meaning a bone density that is two and a half standard deviations below the mean of a thirty year-old man/woman. The T-score is —1.0 or higher is cases of healthy bones, while in osteopenia (weak bones), T-score lies between —1.0 and —2.5.
The determination of T-score not only helps in diagnosing osteoporosis but also helps in deciding the type of medication and therapy to improve the condition. With no specific symptoms of low bone density, osteoporosis does have particular causes but occurs when loss of tissues and minerals is faster than their replacement. The thinning of the bone line can occur due to lack of calcium or phosphate, which helps in formation of new bone cells, age, hereditary or chronic illness. Any factor that affects bone density can cause the disease.
Notably, postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, as by this time the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, which helps in the bone repair process. Similarly, female athletes or ones suffering from anorexia nervosa may end up having osteoporosis as in both cases the menstrual cycle is affected, which further decreases the levels of estrogen. Women who have reached the menopause stage should visit a doctor regularly to keep a tab on their bone density.
Early determination of osteoporosis can be helpful. A person reporting frequent fractures even after minor falls should immediately visit an orthopaedic surgeon and undergo the bone density test. The best way to prevent and cure osteoporosis is by improving the lifestyle. A healthy diet which is rich ¡n calcium, phosphate and vitamin D can improve bone density and strengthen the bones.
Good Sources Of Calcium
- Cheese, milk and other dairy foods
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soya beans, tofu
- Nuts Good Sources Of Vitamin D
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerels, sardines O Eggs
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Powdered milk
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that involves regular exercise, a balanced diet, free from any addictions like smoking, alcohol, sedative drugs or others is advisable. Activities such as weight bearing exercises are actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, because as you put more tension on your muscles it puts more pressure on your bones, which then responds well and enhances bone functions.
A person reporting frequent fractures even after minor falls should immediately visit an orthopaedic surgeon and undergo the bone density test
Alternatively, for people suffering from severe osteoporosis, doctors tend to prescribe medicines to boost weak bones. Certain oral drugs help in maintaining bone density and bisphosphonates are the work horses of osteoporosis medicines. However, such drugs should only be taken after seeking the doctor’s approval, as the right kind of drugs given for different levels of bone density is essential for a good clinical outcome. Self-medication can lead to further damage and side effects. In order to fulfil the deficiency of minerals, you can also opt for vitamin D and calcium supplements.