3 Proven Ways to Save Your Bones
Osteoporosis can be a silent disease. If people aren’t screened for osteoporosis they can be walking around not knowing their bones are progressively becoming weaker until, one day, they break a bone. Medical guidelines emphasize the importance of building bone density to reduce fractures; however, there are many other proven and important ways to reduce fracture risk. Our top 3 are listed here.
1. Don’t Fall
The biggest risk for breaking a bone is falling. In fact, about 90% of hip fractures in adults occur because of falls. This seems obvious to most people, but unfortunately, many people aren’t doing everything they can to reduce their risk of falling.
Fall prevention begins with evaluating hazards in your home. Tidy up loose cords, keep clutter off the floor, and make sure your home is well lit. Build muscle strength and balance through exercise, and check with your doctor to find out if any of your medications might make you dizzy or more likely to fall. Read our fall prevention checklist for specific things you can start doing today.
2. Deal with Your Addictions
Smoking cigarettes undoubtedly increases your fracture risk. One study found that smokers had a 31% higher risk for osteoporosis fractures than nonsmokers. The good news is that when you stop smoking, your risk for fractures drops.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of osteoporosis fractures. If you think you might have an addiction to alcohol, seek help through your healthcare provider or Alcoholics Anonymous to evaluate if you are an alcoholic and to help you stop drinking. If you’re not addicted to alcohol, social drinking about 3-3.5 drinks per week was shown in one study to reduce fracture risk, and wine may be more protective than liquor.
3. Take Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K2 (MK4)
When evaluating the benefit of taking dietary supplements for osteoporosis, the most important question to ask is whether or not that supplement will actually decrease your fracture risk. Many nutrients improve bone density but have never been shown in clinical trials to reduce fractures. Calcium, vitamin D, strontium and vitamin K2 in the form of MK4 have.
Calcium and vitamin D supplementation have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures by about 16%. Studies conclude that strontium may reduce fractures by about 45%. However, strontium may interfere with calcium absorption and causes false bone density test results. Clinical trials have evaluated the effect of vitamin K2 (MK4) on osteoporosis fractures and concluded that MK4 (45 mg/day) reduces fractures in people with osteoporosis. Research shows that MK4 (45 mg/day) may reduce fractures more than 80%.
Read our 6 Steps to Reduce Fracture Risk.
Berg KM, Kunins HV, Jackson JL, et al. Association between alcohol consumption and both osteoporotic fracture and bone density. Am J Med. 2008;121(5):406-418. [article]
Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(12):1256-1261. [article]
Jeremiah MP, Unwin BK, Greenawald MH, Casiano VE. Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis. Am Fam Physician. 2015;92(4):261-268. [article]
Kubo JT, Stefanick ML, Robbins J, et al. Preference for wine is associated with lower hip fracture incidence in post-menopausal women. BMC Womens Health. 2013;1336. [article]
Shiraki M, Shiraki Y, Aoki C, Miura M. Vitamin K2 (menatetrenone) effectively prevents fractures and sustains lumbar bone mineral density in osteoporosis. J Bone Miner Res. 2000;15(3):515-521. [article]
Thorin MH, Wihlborg A, Åkesson K, Gerdhem P. Smoking, smoking cessation, and fracture risk in elderly women followed for 10 years. Osteoporos Int. 2016;27(1):249-255. [article]
Weaver CM, Alexander DD, Boushey CJ, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and risk of fractures: an updated meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporos Int. 2015. [article]
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