(WCCO) — No matter your age, now is the time to think about your bones. Osteoporosis is a threat to tens of millions of Americans, mostly women. However, men cannot let their guard down.
While one out of two women will suffer a bone break related to osteoporosis, one out of four men face the same fate.
“It has not been thought of as a disease of men and even physicians don’t think about it,” said Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Sundeep Khosla, who is President of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
Dr. Khosla said declining estrogen is the culprit for both men and women.
“The risk for osteoporosis comes on fairly suddenly in women with the onset of menopause and loss of estrogen,” he said. “It’s much more gradual for men.”
Men can not stop the clock, but they can fight back with exercise. Lifting weights has multiple benefits. Adding muscle and improving balance reduces the risk of a fall.
Khosla also said exercise stress on our bones wakes them up, in effect, and makes them bulk up.
While weight-bearing activities are a great way to add bone mass, you don’t have to resort to weight-lifting. Many physical activities are beneficial — walking, running, playing tennis all send signals to the living cells of our bones.
In fact, the skeletal system is smart enough to know where new growth is needed most.
“Cells can sense the load on the bone and they trigger certain biochemical signals that then cause the formation of new bone, particularly at sites where the stress is the greatest,” said Dr. Khosla.
Good nutrition is another key to bone health. Khosla said men should be getting 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day and 400-800 units of vitamin D. Supplements are helpful if your diet does not include enough natural sources, including dairy products.
Healthy lifestyle choices also pay off in our bones. Research shows smoking, excess caffeine or alcohol and too much salt all contribute to bone loss.