Before Money, Invest in your Bones

What is money without health? At present, even an unlimited supply of money cannot cure osteoporosis as there is no single and instant cure for the condition. Then, what good is wealth when you cannot live life to the fullest because you’re too fragile and constantly in pain? Then there is the chance that your life may be tragically cut short due to complications following fractures. Sure, there can be a cure in the future, but osteoporosis is a complex condition, and it also doesn’t just describe one condition. Osteoporosis may occur due mainly to a lack of bone formation, an increase in bone resorption (i.e., bone breakdown), low bone turnover, high bone turnover … Hedging your bets on an all-encompassing cure and/or cures in X amount of years will not be a wise bet given the condition’s complexity and the long process of drug development, especially when it’s weighed against the consequences of osteoporosis that may manifest in the not-too-distant future.

Osteoporosis is not something only a few genetically susceptible of us need to worry about; it is a pandemic that is expected to affect at least 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men after the age of 50. That is not to say osteoporosis does not affect those under the age of 50. In fact, as much as 2% of college-aged women may already have osteoporosis. With populations becoming continually more inactive and poorly nourished, osteoporosis-related fractures are expected to double in fewer than 25 years from now. That accounts to approximately 319 million high-risk individuals!

Osteoporosis is not a condition that suddenly develops in old age, either. This is a condition that slowly develops over a lifetime. Just as you expect to retire with enough savings to carry you through to the end of your life, you would likewise need to maintain a diet and lifestyle that fosters the development of strong and dense bones to last into old age after bone formation (earning money) decreases and bone resorption (using money) increases. The no-brainer course of action is to start while young and healthy. The younger the better. While osteoporosis can be reversed with a multi-targeted treatment approach, would it be easier to build a retirement fund from scratch at age 60, or would it be easier and more effective to put a little money away each week as soon as you’re young enough to work? But just how important is it really to start investing in bone health at a young age?

Let’s break it down. From birth to the age of 2, bone mass doubles. Then, bone mass once again doubles by the age of 10, and finally, it doubles once more during puberty. It is here when bone is most responsive to vital bone-building activity, like loading exercises, as it is rapidly modeling itself. Up to 90% of bone mass is already attained by 18 in girls and by 20 in boys. Environmental disturbances that occur during these crucial times of bone attainment, such as malnutrition (e.g., anorexia), are enough to not only completely sabotage adult peak bone mass but also enough to cause full blown osteoporosis with fragility features before adulthood.  Peak bone mass is achieved between the ages 16 to 25 in most people and in normal circumstances, begins to decrease significantly as early as during the mid-30s, so the effort dedicated towards maximizing bone reserve is even more pressing than when one expects to go into retirement.

With that said, how does one acquire optimal bone reserve to ward off future osteoporosis? As with many things, it’s not entirely simple. If the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis simply required vitamin D and ~1200 mg of calcium, it wouldn’t be the threat it is today. Following these two tips, which are repeated ad nauseam, will not give you adequate ROI (return on investment). Acquiring bone reserve, or increasing your bone bank, so to speak, will require multifactorial lifestyle adjustments, such as the right kind of exercises, and a balanced diet, which are each outlined and discussed in detail in my recently published book: Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide: Volume I: Lifestyle and Nutrition found on Amazon as a paperback and in Kindle format.

References:

Lanou, Amy Joy and Michael Castleman. 2009. Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

International Osteoporosis Foundation. “Number of people at high risk of fracture set to double by 2040: Within just a few decades, more than 300 million people worldwide will be at high risk of fracture.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915141039.htm (accessed December 29, 2016).

Williams, Xandria. 2002. Fighting Osteoporosis. Heron Quays, London: Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.

Caradonna P, Rigante D. Bone health as a primary target in the pediatric age. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Mar 1;13(2):117-28.

Bono CM, Einhorn TA. Overview of osteoporosis: pathophysiology and determinants of bone strength. European Spine Journal. 2003;12(Suppl 2):S90-S96. doi:10.1007/s00586-003-0603-2.

Specker BL, Wey HE, Smith EP. Rates of bone loss in young adult males. International journal of clinical rheumatology. 2010;5(2):215-228. doi:10.2217/ijr.10.7.

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