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Why is Bone Health Important?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Written by Colleen Bridges, M. Ed., NSCA-CPT, Parkinson’s disease fitness specialist, Renee Rouleau- PhD student, Jacobs School of Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo; Betsy Lerner, MA English and African American Lit, Parkinson’s Disease Specialist and Rock Steady Boxing Certified

Megan Kelly, PT, DPT, LSVT Big and Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery Certified

Bone health spans your entire life. It isn’t just a season in life on which you focus and ignore all else. It is a lifelong commitment.

At the time of the “Got Milk” campaign, young adults between the ages of 18-24 were consuming a yearly average of 45 gallons of soft drinks, but only a yearly average of 18 gallons of milk. Today, the consumption of carbonated sugary-sweet beverages (CSSB) has decreased significantly; but the consumption of sugary fruit juices has increased, especially in the toddler to middle school demographics.

The significance of this statistic is that the majority of young adults under the age of 30 are not aware of the importance of milk and, more importantly, bone health. Whether one is under 30 or over, bone health is important. - Why, BECAUSE, lack of good bone health is usually associated with age-related diseases, broken hips Osteopenia…or Osteoporosis, (condition where bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D).

You may recall from last week’s article one that your bones …

  • Provide structure, allowing you to move and breathe.

  • Protect your organs.

  • Connect muscles and store calcium.

  • Consist of Cancellous bone which is an important reservoir for developing red and white blood cells and platelets.

  • Can contain defective red blood cells in the bone marrow which the body destroys and removes

  • Are a precursor to multiple hormones involved in insulin production, growth and brain development

  • Can absorb heavy metals from blood such as lead, arsenic and mercury

Peak bone mass is reached around age 30. At that point, new bone is no longer created. Instead, bones “remodel” as discussed in the previous blog.

Important note: According to the Mayo Clinic, the more bone mass you have in the “bank” by age 30, the less likely one is to have osteoporosis.

Let’s take a look at the importance of bone health. According to the Mayo Clinic…

  • 1 in 3 women over 50 will have a broken bone due to osteoporosis

  • 1 in 5 men will have a broken bone due to osteoporosis

  • 200 Million people world-wide are estimated to have osteoporosis

  • Nearly 50% of people who break a bone from a fall FAIL to recover 100% of mobility

  • 24% increase in mortality rate post-fracture within the first 12 month

  • People living with Parkinson’s Disease have a higher risk of falling

Let’s take a look at factors that affect bone health.

  • Calcium. A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.

  • Salt. Too much salt can lead to bone weakening or Osteoporosis.

  • Carbonated Drinks, Coffee and Tea. Moderation is necessary!

  • Wheat Bran cereal with milk. This one is most surprising! Eaten together, your body absorbs less calcium. Allow two hours between your calcium consumption and bowl of bran.

  • Physical activity. People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more active counterparts. Weight bearing exercises, such as those we perform at Bridges for Parkinson’s, are highly recommended

  • Tobacco and alcohol use. Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two alcoholic drinks a day for men may increase the risk of osteoporosis.

  • Sex. Women have less bone tissue than do men

  • Size. You're at risk if you are 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. Severely restricting food intake and being underweight weakens bone in both men and women. In addition, weight-loss surgery and conditions such as celiac 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, is 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.

  • Falls.

  • Bone conditions. Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Type 1 Diabetes.

The Bridges For Parkinson’s team encourages you to stop and consider if any of the above factors should be addressed with your primary care physician. Now that we’ve addressed the importance of bone health, our next article focuses on HOW to improve bone health.


Parkinson’s Foundation

Cristina Mutchler- Very Well Health

WebMD- Osteoporosis Guide

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