Preventing Osteoporosis

Genetic factors play a significant role in determining whether an individual is at heightened risk of osteoporosis. However, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity also influence bone development in youth and the rate of bone loss later in life.

After your mid-20s, bone thinning is a natural process and cannot be completely stopped. The thicker your bones, the less likely they are to become thin enough to break. Young women in particular need to be aware of their osteoporosis risk and take steps to slow its progress and prevent fractures.

Childhood to adolescence

Building strong bones starts during childhoodIt’s never too early to invest in bone health. The prevention of osteoporosis begins with optimal bone growth and development in youth.

Bones are living tissue, and the skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching a maximum strength and size (peak bone mass) in early adulthood, around the mid-20s. Read about bone development in young people.

Children and adolescents should:

It’s estimated a 10% increase of peak bone mass in children reduces the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adult life by 50%.

Adulthood

Bone mass acquired during youth is an important determinant of the risk of osteoporotic fracture during later life. The higher the peak bone mass, the lower the risk of osteoporosis.

Once peak bone mass has been reached, it is maintained by a process called remodelling. This is a continuous process in which old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is created (formation). The renewal of bone is responsible for bone strength throughout life.

During childhood and the beginning of adulthood, bone formation is more important than bone resorption. Later in life, however, the rate of bone resorption is greater than the rate of bone formation and results in net bone loss –a thinning of your bones.

Any factor which causes a higher rate of bone remodelling will ultimately lead to a more rapid loss of bone mass and more fragile bones. The nutritional and lifestyle advice for building strong bones in youth is just as applicable to adults to.

Adults should: