Not everyone who has osteopenia develops osteoporosis. But osteopenia can turn into osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can result in easily fractured bones and other very serious bone problems. When it is advanced, it can also cause disfigurement (from fractures in the spine) and lead to loss of mobility and independence, especially if the hip is fractured.
You've probably heard that calcium is important for bone health and treating -- or preventing -- osteoporosis. Happily, calcium seems to be everywhere these days. Not only is it naturally in dairy and other foods, but it now appears in many fortified products -- like oatmeal, cereal, protein bars, and orange juice. Calcium is also sold in countless supplements for bone health that line the aisles of your local drugstore.
And yet, it's not enough. "Most people still aren't getting enough calcium...
Bone health is measured by bone density, which indicates the amount of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. A higher bone density indicates stronger bones.
To determine bone density, your health care provider will usually do a DXA bone scan.
The amount of bone you have usually peaks around age 30. Then it begins to decline. Your body starts to reabsorb bone faster than new bone can be made.
With aging, your body reabsorbs calcium and other minerals from your bones. This reabsorption can make your bones weaker and lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. The bones become more vulnerable to fractures and other damage.
What Are Some Risk Factors for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis?
Risk factors for developing osteopenia are the same as those for developing osteoporosis. They include: