Osteo "means bone and" penia "indicates a state of low quantity. The term osteopenia refers to a bone density that is somewhat lower, but not excessively lower, than a “standard” young person (someone between 20 and 20 years old) of the same gender.
What is osteopenia and what care to take
If your bone density measurement indicates that your bone density is between 1.0 and 2.49 standard deviations (SD) below what would be expected in an average young man or woman, then you are said to have a bone density in the osteopenic range. He is said to have osteopenia.
Osteopenia, however, is not a disease or a true diagnosis. It simply indicates a state of relatively low bone mass, that is, your bone mass is low compared to the standard.
You could have “osteopenia” because you never developed high peak bone mass in your youth, or because you naturally have bones that are less dense than average (often the case in naturally thin people). It doesn't have to mean that you are currently losing bone.
On the other hand, some of us with osteopenia are currently experiencing bone loss and are on our way to having a greater degree of bone loss, known as osteoporosis.
Recent surveys suggest that a large percentage of individuals in the US have a low bone density that can be classified as osteopenia. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 21.8 million American women and another 11.8 million men have osteopenia.
Osteopenia and risk of fracture
Although low bone density is one of the risk factors for osteoporotic fracture, having osteopenia does not predict future fractures. In fact, several studies document that more than half of those who sustain a low trauma “osteoporotic” fracture do not have osteoporotic bone density. Rather they have "osteopenia," or even normal bone density.
Statistics on osteopenia and risk of fracture
Here are some references that corroborate the fact that most fractures occur in people with osteopenia.
The US Osteoporotic Fracture (SOF) Study examined 8,065 women over the age of 65. They reported that only 10 to 44% of osteoporotic fractures occurred in those women with "osteoporotic bone density."
According to the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA), more than two-thirds of hip fractures occur during the first year of follow-up in women (average age 65 years) who were not considered osteoporotic (had osteopenia or mineral density normal bone (BMD).
European data on fBMD and fracture risk found that only 18% of all fractures occurred in women with “osteoporotic” bone density.
Does osteopenia matter?
So does it matter that your bone density is 1.0 one standard deviation (SD) below that of a young person? One way to look at this is to realize that a bone loss of more than 1 SD equates to a 10-12% decrease in bone density.
Another perspective is that you probably have a bone density lower than 84% of young people of your gender. One final way of looking at it is to say that, in a young, healthy population, the statistics used show that approximately 16% of all young women will have a T-score less than -1 and therefore osteopenia.
Remember, if you are not young, you most likely do not have the bone density of a young person. You should also know that there is a lot of controversy regarding how the "ideal" reference bone mineral density is established: different people accept different age groups (some say mid-20s, some late 20s, some early 30's) as the standard for average bone density peak.
Diagnosis of osteopenia is not always clear due to different markers
Currently, each manufacturer of each bone density measuring machine decides its own “ideal” youth bone density reference range.
Often, studies using locally developed reference ranges give very different results than those using manufacturers' reference ranges.
In short, the "diagnosis" of osteopenia is something that is not something clear and simple. If there are other signs that you are losing bone, then it could be a sign to start paying more attention to your bone health and consider taking steps to alter your diet and nutritional status.
If, on the other hand, there are no signs of bone loss, and you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, being told you have osteopenia is not a major concern; the fact that you are below the average density may be a normal situation for you and is not a sign of a health problem.
Osteopenia - 5 steps to stronger bones
As we've mentioned, osteopenia does not mean that you will always suffer from osteoporosis or a fracture. Osteopenia means that your bone density measurement is lower, but not excessively lower, than a 30-year-old woman.
And what it really means to you will depend on your individual body type, lifestyle, history, and many factors that you can control right now.
Here's what you can do to make sure your bones get everything they need to stay strong.
1. Get the right amount of key nutrients for bone development
· Eat a healthy alkaline diet and try high-quality nutritional supplements. Make sure the supplements you use are designed to alkalize, so that they save bones and muscles.
· Make sure your mineral intake is adequate. This can be easily done by measuring the pH of your urine the first morning. A first morning urine pH reading of 6.5 to 7.5 suggests that you are getting adequate minerals from your diet and supplements.
· Test your vitamin D level and supplement with enough to reach a blood level of 50 to 60 ng throughout the year.
2. Build muscle strength
Chronic low muscle mass is associated with low bone mass. Even greater grip strength and stronger back muscles are associated with higher bone density.
If you've been told you have osteopenia in your hip, try walking more, hopping and hopping if you can. All provide a stimulating impact to the bones in the hip. Also consider wearing a weighted vest when walking. Makes each step deliver a greater bone stimulating impact on the hip.
3. Avoid bone-depleting anti-nutrients
The list is long, so you may have to slowly choose bone-depleting anti-nutrients. But excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks a day), smoking, soda, excessive caffeine and a high consumption of sugar alone and in processed foods.
Many medications damage bones, and the list seems to expand daily. Steroids like prednisone are ranked as the top bone busters, causing about 20% of all osteoporosis in the US alone
4. Eat enough healthy food every day.
The body is a single unit; if you lose weight you lose bone. The weakening of the bones from weight loss before menopause is more easily compensated for than from weight loss after menopause. Make sure you get between 50 and 80 grams of protein a day, depending on your level of physical activity.
5. Work with your doctor to see if there is any medical cause for your osteopenia
If you have ongoing excessive bone loss, measured by either sequential bone density testing or a bone breakdown marker test like the NTx, or if you have experienced a low trauma fracture, steps should be taken to detect the hidden causes of this bone loss.
These are some of the more common tests used to detect hidden secondary causes of bone loss. You can share this list with your healthcare professional and see what tests they will do to look for your hidden causes of bone loss.
· Vitamin D 25 (OH) D blood test
· Ionized calcium test
· Intact Parathyroid Hormone (iPTH) Blood Test
· 24-hour urine calcium excretion test
· Thyroid hormone (TSH) function test
· N-telopeptide cross-link (NTx) bone resorption test urine marker
· N-telopeptides crosslinks (NTx) bone resorption test serum marker
· Dpd urine marker bone resorption test (deoxypyridinium cross-link test)
· Evaluation of vertebral deformity
· Cortisol test (blood or saliva)
· DHEA test (blood or saliva)
· C-reactive protein test (high sensitivity if possible)
· Homocysteine test (plasma or serum)
· Celiac Disease
· Gluten sensitivity test
· Sex hormone test
As you can see, you are not powerless when it comes to building stronger bones, even if you have been diagnosed with osteopenia. See this as an opportunity to make some nutritional and lifestyle changes.
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