Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Men as well as women suffer from osteoporosis, a disease that can be prevented and treated.

Osteoporosis can strike at any age. Throughout your lifetime, old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is added to the skeleton (formation). During childhood and teenage years, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. Bone formation continues at a pace faster than resorption until peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) is reached around age 30. After age 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone formation. Bone loss is most rapid in the first few years after menopause but persists into the postmenopausal years. Osteoporosis develops when bone resorption occurs too quickly or if replacement occurs too slowly. Osteoporosis is more likely to develop if you did not reach optimal bone mass during your bone building years.

Causes of Osteoporosis
A family history of osteoporosis, the foods you eat, your hormone make-up, your age, and how you live your life all play a role in causing osteoporosis. Certain factors are linked to the development of osteoporosis or contribute to an individual's likelihood of developing the disease. These are called "risk factors."

Many people with osteoporosis have several of these risk factors, but others who develop osteoporosis have no identified risk factors. There are some risk factors that you cannot change, and others that you can:

Risk factors you cannot change include:

· Gender - Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are a woman. Women have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly than men because of the changes involved in menopause.

· Age - the older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones become less dense and weaker as you age.

· Body size - Small, thin-boned women are at greater risk.

· Ethnicity - Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk. African-American and Latino women have a lower but significant risk.

· Family history - Susceptibility to fracture may be, in part, hereditary. People whose parents have a history of fractures also seem to have reduced bone mass and may be at risk for fractures.

Risk factors you can change:

· A lifetime diet low in calcium and vitamin D.
· Anorexia.
· Sex hormones: abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), low estrogen level (menopause), and low testosterone level in men.
· An inactive lifestyle, lack of exercise or extended bed rest. Apparently, exercise is food for strong bones.
· Use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids or some anticonvulsants.
· Cigarette smoking.
· Excessive use of alcohol.

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