Preventative Care for OsteoporosisForming bone healthy habits early in life will not only contribute to the bone building process and ensure that young people achieve optimal bone mass, but this preventative care will reduce the risk of osteoporosis or bone loss later in life. You may have heard of the analogy called: The Bone Bank. The Bone Bank is the idea that the more bone you save up during your early years, the more bone you can draw from later in life. So how long do you have to save up? Until you reach 26 years of age or so. At or around 26 years of age you then plateau, meaning you are no longer building bone. Then, at around age 35 you begin to lose on average 1% of your bone density each year! Now you might begin to see the importance of The Bone Bank. As you can see men reach a higher peak bone mass than women. Boys and girls build about the same amount of bone before puberty, but after puberty, boys tend to build more bone mass.
Causes of Juvenile OsteoporosisOsteoporosis is typically seen in adult postmenopausal women, but can also show up in young children. Juvenile osteoporosis or osteoporosis in children is usually seen as a secondary feature either from a chronic disease or from treatment (medications) for a chronic condition. Some of the diseases that can lead to osteoporosis in children are: 
- Coeliac disease
- Kidney Disease
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteogenesis imperfecta
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Anorexia nervosa
- Anticonvulsants (commonly known as antiepileptic drugs or antiseizure drugs)
- Corticosteroids (can be used for asthma and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Immunosuppressive agents (ex: for cancer)
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the hips, knees, ankles and feet
- Difficulty walking
- Fractures without significant trauma
4 Bone Healthy Habits to Focus OnForming bone healthy habits and focusing on preventative care during youth will not only build up your Bone Bank, but reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life. The following are 4 bone healthy habits to focus on and why:
#1 Exercise:Specifically osteoporosis exercises, but don’t let that scare you. Osteoporosis exercises focus on weight-bearing exercise, which literally means ‘to bear your own weight’. It is one of the best things you can do to increase your bone strength because of the concentrated pressure it puts on your bones. When you don’t regularly stress your muscles, joints and bones, they begin to weaken over time. Weight bearing exercises include but are not limited to running, lifting weights, resistance training, team sports like soccer and hiking. See the 5 easy to do resistance exercises you can do anywhere for ideas. Participation in sports whether during school or after school programs will ensure your child is getting regular exercise. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends children ages 5-17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. More than 60 minutes will also provide additional health benefits. The benefits of physical activity for youth are the following:
- Develop healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Develop a healthy heart and lungs for cardiovascular system
- Develop coordination and movement control (neuromuscular awareness)
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
#2 Maintain a Healthy Body Weight:Being both underweight and overweight can increase your child’s risk of osteoporosis. Specifically in young women, extreme body thinness can result in estrogen deficiency or amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation). This estrogen deficiency contributes to bone loss in the same way that menopause contributes to bone loss in older women. This is not only preventative care for osteoporosis, but for self-esteem and mental wellness.
#3 Cut Out Smoking:One study showed that even low levels of smoking during adolescence had a negative impact on bone accrual. Adolescence is a time where youth need to be giving their body what it needs. It’s growing, learning, functioning and smoking hinders that. With continued smoking behavior, one could surmise that lumbar spine BMD could become dramatically lower throughout adulthood. However, it is concerning that even these relatively low levels of smoking have a negative impact on bone accrual. 
#4 Adequate Calcium and Bone Building Nutrients:According to the USDA’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals, the following percentage of Americans are not meeting the recommended daily intakes for calcium.  With phosphate rich soft drinks more frequently replacing milk or other calcium rich drinks among young people, the figures below are a recipe for disaster!
- 44% of boys and 58% of girls ages 6-11
- 64% of boys and 87% of girls ages 12-19
- 55% of men and 78% of women ages
How Much Calcium Does Your Child Need?
|Table 1: Recommended Adequate Intake By The IOM For Calcium|
|Male and Female Age||Calcium (mg/day)||Pregnancy and Lactation|
|0 – 6 months||210||N/A|
|7 – 12 months||270||N/A|
|1 – 3 years||500||N/A|
|4 – 8 years||800||N/A|
|9 – 13 years||1300||N/A|
|14 – 18 years||1300||1300|
|19 – 50 years||1000||1000|
|51 + years||1200||N/A|
- Dorn, Beal et al. (2012) Longitudinal Impact of Substance Use and Depressive Symptoms on Bone Accrual Among Girls Aged 11–19 Years. Journal of Adolescent Health, Vol. 52, Issue 4, p393–399
- Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals, 1994-96
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bone Health and Osteoporosis:A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2004.