Protecting your bone health is easier than you think. Understand how diet, physical activity and other lifestyle factors can affect your bone mass.
Bones play many roles in the body — providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles and storing calcium. While it’s important to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, you can take steps during adulthood to protect bone health, too.
Why is bone health important?
Your bones are continuously changing — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you’re young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.
How likely you are to develop osteoporosis — a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle — depends on how much bone mass you attain by the time you reach age 30 and how rapidly you lose it after that. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
What affects bone health?
A number of factors can affect bone health. For example:
The amount of calcium in your diet. A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
Physical activity. People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
Tobacco and alcohol use. Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis, possibly because alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Gender. You’re at greater risk of osteoporosis if you’re a woman, because women have less bone tissue than do men.
Size. You’re also at risk if you’re extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame because you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age.
Age. Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
Race and family history. You’re at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent. In addition, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
Hormone levels. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.
Eating disorders and other conditions. People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. In addition, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight-loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Certain medications. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, are damaging to bone. Other drugs that might increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital, and proton pump inhibitors.
What can I do to keep my bones healthy?
You can take a few simple steps to prevent or slow bone loss. For example:
Include plenty of calcium in your diet. For adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and for men after age 70.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.
Pay attention to vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults ages 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older.
Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body’s production of vitamin D. If you’re worried about getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplements.
Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.
Avoid substance abuse. Don’t smoke. Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
Enlist your doctor’s help
If you’re concerned about your bone health or your risk factors for osteoporosis, including a recent bone fracture, consult your doctor. He or she might recommend a bone density test. The results will help your doctor gauge your bone density and determine your rate of bone loss. By evaluating this information and your risk factors, your doctor can assess whether you might be a candidate for medication to help slow bone loss.
“The biggest issue in most of patients is that they have too much on their plates and want to juggle it all. Stress can have significant health consequences, from infertility to higher risks of depression, anxiety, and heart disease. Find the stress-reduction method that works for you and stick with it.”
2. Stop dieting
“Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to forgot your favorite piece of chocolate, cake now and then. The key is moderation. Get a mix of lean proteins, healthy fats, smart carbs, and fiber.”
3. Don’t “OVERDOSE” on calcium
“Too much absorbed calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones and may even increase the risk of heart disease. If you’re under 50, shoot for 1,000 milligrams per day, while over-50 women should be getting 1,200 milligrams per day mainly through diet — about three servings of calcium-rich foods such as milk, salmon, and almonds.”
4. Do more than cardio
“Women need a mix of cardio and resistance or weight-bearing exercise at least three to five times a week to help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Exercise also promotes good self-image, which is really important to a woman’s mental health.”
5. Think about fertility.
“While many women have no problem getting pregnant in their late 30s and even into their early 40s, a woman’s fertility may start to decline as early as 32. So if you want to have kids, talk to your doctor about options, like freezing your eggs.”
6. Appreciate birth control
“Birth control gets a bad rap, but not only can it keep you from getting pregnant before you’re ready, studies show it can lower the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer as well as regulate your cycle.”
7. See your doctor every year
Make sure you get a Pap test to check for cervical cancer every 3 years if you are 21 or older. If you are 30-65, you can get both a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years. Older than that, you may be able to stop testing if your doctor says you are low risk. If you are sexually active and have a higher risk for STDs, get tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis yearly. Take an HIV test at least once, more frequently if you’re at risk. Don’t skip your yearly checkup. Your doctor needs to annually assess many other issues such as potential infection, your need for contraception, and sexual complaints.”
8. Have good sex
“Sex reduces stress and may lower the risk of chronic disease — but only if you enjoy it. If anything prevents you from sexual fulfillment, such as dryness or pain, talk to your doctor to find a solution.”
9. Get more sleep.
“Sleep needs differ, but if you have trouble getting out of bed, tire easily, or have trouble concentrating, you likely aren’t getting enough. Recent studies suggest this can put you at greater risk of heart disease and psychological problems.”
10. Consider genetic testing
“Doctors can now screen people with a family history of breast cancer,ovarian cancer, and chronic diseases to assess their risk — and then consider preventive measures. Talk to your doctor.”
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The most common causes of chronic liver failure (where the liver fails over months to years) include:
Long-term alcohol consumption
Hemochromatosis (an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron)
The causes of acute liver failure, when the liver fails rapidly, however, are often different. These include:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose
Viruses including hepatitis A, B, and C (especially in children)
Reactions to certain prescription and herbal medications
Ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms
What Are the Symptoms of Liver Failure?
The initial symptoms of liver failure are often ones that can be due to any number or conditions. Because of this, liver failure may be initially difficult to diagnose. Early symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
However, as liver failure progresses, the symptoms become more serious, requiring urgent care. These symptoms include:
Mental disorientation or confusion (known as hepatic encephalopathy)
How Is Liver Failure Treated?
If detected early enough, acute liver failure caused by an overdose of acetaminophen can sometimes be treated and its effects reversed. Likewise, if a virus causes liver failure, supportive care can be given at a hospital to treat the symptoms until the virus runs its course. In these cases, the liver will sometimes recover on its own.
For liver failure that is the result of long-term deterioration, the initial treatment goal may be to save whatever part of the liver is still functioning. If this is not possible, then a liver transplant is required. Fortunately, liver transplant is a common procedure that is often successful.
How Can Liver Failure Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent liver failure is to limit your risk of developing cirrhosis or hepatitis. Here are some tips to help prevent these conditions:
Get a hepatitis vaccine or an immunoglobulin shot to prevent hepatitis A or B.
Eat a proper diet from all of the food groups.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid alcohol when you are taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Practice proper hygiene. Since germs are commonly spread by hands, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after you use the bathroom. Also, wash your hands before you touch any food.
Don’t handle any blood or blood products.
Don’t share any personal toiletry items, including toothbrushes and razors.
If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, make sure the conditions are sanitary and all equipment is aseptic (free of disease-causing microorganisms).
Be sure to use protection (condoms) when having sex.
If you use illegal intravenous drugs, don’t share needles with anyone.
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