Bone density, also known as bone mineral density, is a measurement of the thickness of your bones. Thick bones decrease your risk for fractures and for developing a condition called osteoporosis. This disease is characterized by weak, thin bones that are prone to fractures. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, genes determine up to 90 percent of your bone mass, while the remainder is determined by environmental factors. There are things you can do to increase your bone density, like do weight-bearing or muscle-strengthening exercises. Taking supplements or certain medications may also increase bone density.
Calcium increases bone density. It is the most essential mineral for bone strength and peak bone mass--the maximum amount of bone. Peak bone mass is reached around the age of 25. Therefore, you should do all you can to build your bone density during the period before your 30s. After this time, you will need to do things to maintain your bone density or slow bone loss. Because your body does not produce calcium, you have to get it from your diet or from supplements. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends you take 1000 milligrams of calcium daily if you are 50 years old or younger and 1,200 milligrams a day if you are over 50.
Vitamin D is also important for bone health. It protects them and is necessary for the absorption of calcium. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, people with low levels of vitamin D may actually lose bone and have low bone density. Most of your Vitamin D is made in your skin from UVB rays from the sun. You may also get it from mackerel, salmon and tuna, or foods fortified with vitamin D. The recommended daily amount for women 50 and younger is 400 to 800 international units and 800 to 1000 international units for women older than 50. You may purchase vitamin D over-the-counter in doses up to 2000 international units. Don't take more than 2000 international units without direct physician supervision.
Bisphosphonates are drugs used to treat and prevent osteoporosis, usually in post-menopausal women and in men with osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. They are available by prescription and are effective at increasing bone density and decreasing bone loss. Possible side effects are heartburn, muscle pain, joint pain, bone pain and irritation of your esophagus.
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