Osteopenia is different from osteoporosis, in this condition, the body does not make new bones as quickly as it reabsorbs the old ones. It is a midpoint between having healthy bones and having osteoporosis.
In osteopenia, your bones are weaker than normal but it does not break easily as in the case of osteoporosis. At around 30 years of age, your bones are usually at their densest and osteopenia usually occurs after the age of 50.
You can get osteopenia earlier if your bones are not naturally dense and it is possible for osteopenia to turn into osteoporosis is possible. Good diet and exercise can keep your bones healthy and strong for decades.
Risk Factors of Osteopenia
Osteopenia arises when your body loses more bones than it’s creating, women are more prone to this condition than men and some people are genetically prone to osteopenia, it can run in families.
Women have lower mass bones than men and they also leave longer than men, this is the reason why their bones age more and they don’t get much calcium as men.
Some medical conditions can also trigger osteopenia, examples are eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These conditions starve your bones of nutrients that keep them strong. Chemotherapy can also weaken your bones due to the exposure to radiation.
Untreated celiac disease, medications used in treating an underactive thyroid gland, and other medications like prednisone or hydrocortisone, phenytoin, steroids, and anti-seizure drugs also increase ones risk of osteopenia.
Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and unhealthy habits can increase your risk of osteopenia. Insufficient exercise, especially in strength training, a deficiency in calcium and vitamin D, excessive intake of carbonated beverages and alcohol and smoking can increase your risk of osteopenia.
Diagnosis of Osteopenia
Osteopenia is usually hard to diagnose because it does not show any symptom, however, a bone mineral test is carried out to diagnose osteopenia. This test is fast and painless and it estimates how thick your bones are with the use of X-rays.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends you undergo this test if you:
- Break a bone after the age of 50
- You are a man older than 50 years old with risk factors of osteopenia
- If you are a woman younger than 65 and you have already passed through menopause
- You have risks factors of osteopenia as a woman
- If you are a woman older than 65 years old
- You are a woman going through menopause and have a high chance of breaking your bones
- You are a postmenopausal woman of
Conventional Treatment of Osteopenia
In modern medicine, osteopenia is treated with medications, especially if the bones are getting weak. These drugs include zoledronic acid, risedronate, raloxifene, ibandronate, and alendronate.
These drugs create adverse side effects like joint pains, bone pains, and digestive problems. They also lead to fatigue and weaknesses.
Natural Remedies for Osteopenia
This diet help you get all the vital nutrients your body needs to build and maintain strong and healthy bones. Make sure you eat varieties of diets so that your body will have enough energy to fuel this process.
Under eating for many years in an attempt to achieve a desired weight can make one nutritionally deficient in these nutrients thereby leading to osteopenia.
This diet is dense in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C. a deficiency in iron leads to anemia and this condition is a risk factor for osteopenia.
Iron is needed in the body for the formation of collagen and the metabolism of vitamin D. Vitamin C also plays a great role in the synthesis of collagen.
It stimulates the cells responsible for building bones, it makes vitamin D more effective, and it enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines.
Rich sources of calcium are organic dairy and dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, or kefir, and you can take in raw diary. Oily fish like sardines and salmon are rich in calcium and you can also find calcium in dark leafy greens and other vegetables such as broccoli.
Magnesium-rich foods are green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, black beans, kefir or yogurt, almonds, and cocoa. Rich sources of vitamin C are kale and other dark green vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, peppers, berries, guava, papaya, and citrus fruits.
Bone broth boosts the production and functions of collagen, and foods rich in iron are grass-fed meats, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Also consume alkaline foods and drink alkaline water if possible, they protect your bones. Alkaline foods are fruits and vegetables, herbs, and sea vegetables.
Reduce your intake of sodium, processed foods, fast foods, deli meats, salty sauces or condiments, canned foods, frozen meats, etc. They weaken bones, avoid refined sugar and sugary products too, they destroy the bones.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the greatest risk factors for osteopenia is obesity, it triggers inflammation in your body, this disrupts the normal levels of hormones in your body and this, in turn, will lead to bone loss and damages.
Maintain a healthy weight through exercise, even into your old age and you will reduce your risks of osteopenia. You can also reduce inflammation in your body by avoiding cigarettes and second-hand smoke, manage stress effectively, get quality sleep, and don’t over-consume alcohol.
Regularly drink ginger tea, at least once a day. it helps burn fat thereby leading to weight loss, it relieves stress because it is one of the most effective adaptogenic herbs we have, and it also fights inflammation in the body.
Consuming green tea helps in improving the density of your bones, it stimulates the activities of bone forming cells and lowers the activities of bone weakening cells.
You can get green tea from a reputable health store, take as many cups as you can in a day.
Protect your Stomach Acid
Medications used to treat hiatal hernia and heartburn prevents the absorption of key nutrients needed for optimal bone health.
These drugs do this by blocking your stomach acid, and your stomach acid is necessary for the absorption of bone-building minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
These acid blocking drugs such as zantac, Tagamet, Prevacid, protonix, and nexium significantly increase the risks of osteopenia in people who take them for a long time.
These drugs are meant to be taken for 6 to 8 weeks and not for years, and also, heartburn symptoms are not caused by excess stomach acid, studies have revealed that 2/3 of patients on these acid blocking drugs have just little stomach acid and not much.
Be guarded and do not abuse medications, avoid self-prescriptions and only take these drugs on doctor’s order and follow the prescription strictly.
You need to practice osteopenia exercise regularly, this will help maintain the strength of your skeletal system throughout adulthood. It also helps in preventing the reduction of bone mass caused by aging.
Exercise also balances the levels of your hormones, this, in turn, leads to a healthy body weight. This also makes your muscles strong thereby helping with coordination and balance. It also prevents you from slipping or falling, this will save you from serious fall, fractures, and injuries.
The most beneficial exercises for your bones are weight-bearing exercise, this is the type of exercise that forces you to work against gravity and you do it in an upright position.
Examples are dancing, playing tennis, running, skiing, and walking. These exercises help your muscles and bones to support your weight. Do these exercises for 3 to 4 times a week, and each session should last for 30 to 60 minutes.
You can also do it more often. You can make use of your body weight, resistant bands/cables, or free weights, do these at least thrice a week for 30 minutes at a time.
Increase your Intake of Proteins
Proteins are important for healthy bones as 50% of the bones consist of proteins. A low intake of protein-rich foods decreases the absorption of calcium in the body.
When this happens, the body becomes deficient in calcium and draw calcium from the bones to meet up, this leads to the breakdown of bones and affect the formation.
Make sure you consume at least a hundred grams of proteins daily and balance this with other diets and an adequate intake of calcium. Older women should consume a higher density of protein, it will increase the density of their bones.
Vitamin D deficiency is the leading cause of bone problems worldwide, a deficiency in this vital nutrient can trigger osteopenia. Studies have noticed that osteopenia patients are deficient in vitamin D.
This nutrient is highly important in the body, it helps in the absorption of calcium, a key mineral needed for strong and healthy bones. Calcium helps in the formation of bones and maintains the strength of bones.
Moderate sunlight is the cheapest and most effective source of vitamin D, grass-fed eggs are also rich in vitamin D.
Avoid Very Low-Calorie Foods
Avoid low-calorie foods such as processed foods, thy have nothing to offer in your body and that is why they are called “junks” or “empty calorie foods”.
Regular intake of these foods will slow down your metabolism, make you hungry, and reduce your bone mass which is harmful to your bone health and body in general.
You need at least 1,200 calories a day to build strong bones.
Bone Building Supplements
These supplements help correct nutritional deficiencies in the body that might be affecting the quality of your bones. You can obtain these minerals and vitamins from the foods you eat but in cases like osteopenia, supplements are also helpful.
Choose calcium citrate supplement, the body absorbs this one best and as an adult, you will have to take at least 1,000 milligrams daily. Also take vitamin D supplement daily, about 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily is enough for adults but those who have difficulty synthesizing enough vitamin D through their skin may need higher amounts.
Magnesium is needed for healthy calcium metabolism, 300 to 500 milligrams daily is encouraged. Vitamin B12 is also needed for healthy bones, the people who need this supplement most are the aged who might have a hard time digesting vitamin B12 due to changes in stomach acid.
Vitamin K2 is another important vitamin needed by the bones, it is used by the body to form a protein which is used in making bones. Take 100 micrograms of this supplement daily.
Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, they also prevent bone loss in aged people. They boosts the formation of new bones and reduce the breakdown of bones.
Natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish, coconut oil, seeds and nuts. There are also available in the form of supplements.