Every three seconds, someone in the world experiences a bone fracture related to osteoporosis, reports the International Osteoporosis Foundation, NOF. Osteopenia increases your chances of being diagnosed with osteoporosis, or bone loss. Prevent osteopenia, and slow the progression of irreversible bone loss, by consuming a healthy diet with adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Osteopenia, or low bone density, is a risk factor for painful fractures, states Janet Torpy, in a 2006 article in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.” It is a precursor for osteoporosis, a disease in which brittle bones fracture easily. Bone mineral density is measured by a bone density test, and quantified by a T-score. A T-score between -1 and -2.5 signifies low mineral content in your bones. This range may differ among men and African American women, cautions the Mayo Clinic.
Protect your bones by consuming a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and low in salt, caffeine and cola drinks, advises the NOF. Smoking and drinking more than three alcoholic beverages daily can weaken your bones. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, and strength training with weights or resistance bands, help to keep your bones strong. Age, gender, genetics, and certain conditions and medications increase your risk for developing osteopenia.
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for your immune system, your nervous system, and your bones. This fat soluble vitamin keeps your bones healthy by maintaining adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus, and by supporting bone growth. Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, your body can produce some of your daily vitamin D requirement with regular sun exposure. The rest of the 600 IU that most adults need comes from food and supplements. Fish oils and fortified milk and orange juice are good dietary sources of the vitamin.
Vitamin D and Osteopenia
Getting at least 10 minutes of daily sunlight helps to prevent osteopenia and fractures, says Torpy. According to the NOF, if you are over 50 years old, you need 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily to protect your bones from osteopenia. To reach these amounts, you probably need a vitamin D supplement. Ask your doctor to check the vitamin D level in your blood. The Office of Dietary Supplements considers a serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D level of greater than 50 nmol/L adequate for bone health.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation; Facts and Statistics about Osteoporosis and its Impact; 2010
- Journal of the American Medical Association; Osteopenia and Preventing Fractures; J. Torpy; December 2006
- National Osteoporosis Foundation; Osteopenia: What Does it Mean?; 2011
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D