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May 25, 2010

Feed Your Bones: National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Do you take your bones for granted?  It's easy to forget about them, but life would be very difficult without a strong skeleton. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month , designed to get you thinking about what you can do to head off osteoporosis, a bone disease that's marked by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue, which increases your risk of bone fractures.Osteoporosis sneaks up on you. It's a silent, progressive condition that you can't feel, and you usually don't know you have it until it's too late. That's why preventing osteoporosis is so important. You're never too young, or too old, to take good care of your bones.

Here are some common myths, and facts, about osteoporosis. 

Myth : Osteoporosis is an older person's disease.
Fact : Osteoporosis is a "geriatric" disease that often starts in childhood. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can help to prevent osteoporosis later in life because it makes bones more fracture-resistant. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation , about 90% of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys.  Peak bone density is achievable during the developmental years with a balanced diet that provides the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients found in Hood Milk and Simply Smart Milk . Bone loss in women can begin as early as age 25, so it's important to for adults to "feed" their bones to reduce the rate of bone loss with age.

Myth : Men don't get osteoporosis.
Fact : It's easy to get the impression that osteoporosis doesn't affect men when you hear that 10 million Americans are thought to have the condition, and eight million of them are female. In women with osteoporosis, the risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.  Although fewer men get osteoporosis, they need to take bone health seriously. In addition, 34 million Americans probably have low bone mass, which means they are at risk of osteoporosis, and many of them are certainly men. 

Myth : Osteoporosis is more of a nuisance than a serious medical condition.
Fact : While people with osteoporosis often lead active lives, the disease has a dark side and is considered a serious medical problem. Here's why. Many people break a bone from osteoporosis after falling, and may never recover from complications of the fall.  In fact, the lifetime risk for a woman of dying from hip fracture complications is the same as her risk of dying from breast cancer. In men, the risk is the same as dying of prostate cancer. Your mother or grandmother may have osteoporosis, but they didn't know what we know about preventing it.  Check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation for excellent tips about heading off osteoporosis, no matter what your age. 

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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