- Your bone mass is constantly remodeled throughout your life.bones and bones image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com
Throughout your life your bones are constantly dissolving and growing back in a process called remodeling, by which you replace most of your skeleton every 10 years. Bone mass loss occurs when bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. As many as 34 million Americans have low bone mass density, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. While post-menopausal women are more prone to bone mass loss than any other group, bone mass loss can affect anyone, because of the variety of factors that contribute to the loss of bone.
Lack of Calcium
- Without calcium, you can't rebuild new bone during the lifelong process of bone remodeling. You need a steady, constant stream of calcium in your blood, since many of your organs, such as your heart, muscles and nerves, depend on calcium to function properly. When your organs need calcium and it's not in your blood, they'll steal the calcium stored in your bones. Over time, your organs can seriously deplete the calcium levels in your bones, leading to thin, brittle bones.
Vitamin D Deficiency
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb and utilize calcium. Without enough vitamin D, your body can't utilize the calcium from the food you eat. As a result, the calcium levels in your blood drop. This leads to your organs depleting the calcium from your bones, thus ultimately resulting in bone mass loss.
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If you don't work your bones, they won't stay strong. By putting gentle stress on your bones through strength training, you'll help your body's natural process of bone remodeling. Bone remodeling occurs in response to physical stress.
If you aren't moving through regular physical exercise, your bones will lose mass, becoming weak. Consequently, excess physical activity, such as repetitive triathlons and marathons, can result in damage to the bones from overstressing them. Additional damage can result from improper nutrition, since these athletes' bodies will require more vitamins and minerals than most people need.
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Do you drink more than three alcoholic beverages a day? If so, you could be putting yourself at risk for lowered bone mass. Alcohol can halt bone remodeling and increase calcium loss. It's a double whammy when it comes to putting yourself at risk for weak, brittle bones. In addition, being intoxicated increases your risk of falling and fracturing your bones.
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Another great reason to put those cigarettes down: bone loss prevention. Not only is smoking bad for your heart and lungs, it's also bad for your bones. Women who smoke have lower estrogen levels than those who don't. Lowered estrogen levels result in lowered bone mass. And lowered estrogen levels bring on menopause at an earlier age, which means you'll experience more years of bone loss. Bone loss is most rapid during the first few years after menopause.
Both men and women who smoke tend to absorb less calcium in their diets, as well. Less calcium from your diet means more calcium depleted from your bones.