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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Peak Bone Mass

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Factors Affecting Peak Bone Mass continued...

Hormonal factors: The hormone estrogen has an effect on peak bone mass. For example, women who had their first menstrual cycle at an early age and those who use oral contraceptives - which contain estrogen - often have high bone mineral density. In contrast, young women whose menstrual periods stop due to extremely low body weight or excessive exercise, for example, may lose significant amounts of bone density, which may not be recovered even after their periods return.

Nutrition: Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health. Calcium deficiencies in young people can account for a 5 to 10 percent difference in peak bone mass and can increase the risk for hip fracture later in life. Surveys indicate that teenage girls in the United States are less likely than teenage boys to get enough calcium. In fact, less than 10 percent of girls ages 9 to 17 are actually getting the calcium they need each day.

Physical Activity: Girls and boys and young adults who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass than those who do not. Women and men older than age 30 can help prevent bone loss with regular exercise. The best exercise for your bones is weight-bearing exercise. This is exercise that forces you to work against gravity, such as walking, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, dancing, and weight lifting.

Lifestyle Behaviors: Smoking has been linked to low bone density in adolescents and is associated with other unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol use and a sedentary lifestyle. The negative impact that smoking has on peak bone mass is further worsened by the fact that those who begin smoking at a younger age are more likely to be heavier smokers later in life. These older smokers are at further risk for bone loss and fracture.

The impact of alcohol on peak bone mass is not clear. The effects of alcohol on bone have been more extensively studied in adults, and the results indicate that high consumption of alcohol has been linked to low bone density. Experts assume that high consumption of alcohol in youth has a similar adverse effect on skeletal health.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Reviewed on March 01, 2005
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