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How can I Increase Bone Density?

Article Details
  • Written By: H. Colledge
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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When bone density is inadequate, a condition known as osteoporosis, there is an increased risk of breaks, or fractures, occurring. Once osteoporosis has been diagnosed, there are a number of possible ways to increase bone density. Drugs such as biphosphonates may be used, which stop bone from being broken down and which can also increase bone density in some parts of the body. In addition to drugs, weight-bearing exercise, where the body's weight is supported by the feet, can help improve bone strength. Hormone treatment with estrogen can also help prevent bone loss, but it has side effects, including increasing the risk of breast cancer and stroke.

Perhaps the most effective way of maintaining bone health is to prevent osteoporosis from occurring in the first place. Eating a healthy diet is important and this can increase calcium and vitamin D levels. Supplements are available, but it is best to consult a doctor before taking them, as excessive amounts of calcium and vitamin D can be harmful. Giving up smoking is beneficial, and lowering alcohol consumption to fewer than two drinks each day can also help to prevent osteoporosis.

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A doctor may recommend medications to increase bone density, which may be taken together with a vitamin D and calcium supplement. The most commonly used drugs are biphosphonates, which can be used to treat both men and women. As a relatively new treatment, the long-term side effects of biphosphonates are not fully understood, so only those patients who are at great risk of fractures continue to take the drugs for longer than around five years. Teriparatide, a copy of the body's parathyroid hormone, is a medication which works differently from most other drugs in that it promotes the growth of new bone, but its long-term effects are not yet known. A drug known as raloxifene mimics the action of estrogen to prevent bone loss, but is thought to have fewer side effects.

As well as taking measures to increase bone density, it is important to minimize the risk of falls and injuries. Falls may be less likely if regular exercise is taken to improve strength and balance. It can also be helpful to keep the home well lit and free of clutter, installing grab rails if necessary. When lifting heavy objects, the body should bend at the knees rather than the back to protect the spine. Maintaining correct posture can be beneficial, as it reduces pressure on individual parts of the spine, minimizing wear and tear on bones.

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