In this article, you will learn what is bone loss, aging changes on bones and how do you prevent bone loss as you age – with Dos & Don’ts?
Bone loss, well known as osteoporosis, is a medical condition (disease). It causes the bones to get brittle – thus more prone to break (fracture). In simple words, this means loss of bone density. Bone density means the amount of bone tissue that is in your bones.
Aging Changes In Bones
Our bodies require the minerals calcium and phosphate to create and keep our bones healthy.
Throughout the life, our bodies continue to both reabsorb old bones & make new bones. The whole skeleton is replaced about every ten years. This natural process loses efficiency, as we get older.
As long as our bodies have a good balance between old and new bones, our bones remain strong & healthy.
But when less new bones are created than old bones reabsorbed, bone loss occurs. This increases the risk of bone fracturing.
Sometimes bone loss happens without any known reason. Some bone loss with aging is normal for everybody. At times the disease is inherited, meaning bone loss and thin bones run in families.
Weak bones can occur due to anything that causes our bodies obliterate too much bone, or keep our bodies from creating enough bones.
Brittle, fragile bones can fracture easily, even without an obvious injury.
Aging And Bone Loss – How Aging Changes Affects Your Bones
As we age, our bodies reabsorb calcium and phosphate from the bones instead of keeping these minerals in the bones. That explains why we lose bone mass or density with age.
The bone loss makes our bones weaker. Many times, a person will fracture a bone before even knowing he/she has bone loss. By the time a fracture occurs, the bone loss has already reached a serious level.
Scoliosis – Aging Changes On Bones
The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a disk, gel-like cushion. Your trunk (middle of the body) gets shorter as the disks gradually become thinner due to loss of fluid.
Vertebrae lose some of their mineral substance as well, which makes each bone thinner. The spinal column becomes curved and gets compressed (packed together). Bone spurs occur with aging and overall use of the spine also take a toll on the vertebrae.
Feet, Arms & Legs – Aging And Bone Loss
The arches in your feet get less pronounced, which leads to a slight loss of height.
The bones of the arms and legs also become fragile & brittle due to loss of minerals, though they don’t change in length. This causes the arms and legs to look longer as they are now compared with the shortened trunk.
Joints, Knees & Hips – Aging And Bone Loss
The joints get less flexible & stiffer. Fluid in the joints may also reduce. So, the cartilages begin to rub together & wear away. Minerals tend to deposit in and around some joints (called calcification). This is more common in the shoulders.
The deterioration of joints with age may result in to inflammation, pain, stiffness, and deformity, even severe arthritis in some cases.
Knee & hip joints may start losing cartilage (due to degenerative changes). The finger joints too begin to lose cartilage and the bones get thicken slightly. Finger joint changes are more common in women. Some times these changes are inherited.
Posture – Aging And Bone Loss
Bones become more fragile & brittle and become prone to break more easily. As the trunk and spine shorten, overall height decreases.
The posture may become more bent (stooped). The hips & knees may get more flexed. The neck may tilt, and the shoulders may narrow and the pelvis gets wider.
Aging And Bone Loss – Movements
Movement slows down and become limited as well. The gait (walking pattern) becomes slower and shorter. Older people have less energy & get tired more easily. There is less arm swinging, so walking becomes unsteady. (Source)
How To Prevent/Slow Down Bone Loss
(i) Eat a well balanced diet with enough high-calcium foods. The women need to be extra careful to get enough calcium & vitamin D, as they grow old. Men above age 70 & women after menopause should get 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Women and men after 70 should take in 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. If you have osteoporosis (a bone loss disease), talk to your health care provider or doctor about prescription treatments.
[Healthy, Balanced Diet For Old People]
(ii) Exercise regularly. A moderate exercise routine helps the bones stay strong. Talk to your doctor or health care provider before starting a new exercise program.
[Exercise Tips For Older Adults]
(i) Avoid consuming too much alcohol because it can harm your bones. It also puts you at the risk of falling and fracturing a bone.
(ii) Avoid smoking. People who smoke are prone to have weaker bones. Women who smoke post menopause have an even greater chance of bone fractures.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Health Coach. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “I am now healthier and fitter at 68 than I was at 28. For me age is just a number!”