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What’s the Difference between Osteopenia and Osteoporosis?

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The strength, density, and mass of your bones will go down with age. Of course, there are steps to slow the process, which become extremely important to longevity and quality of life.

You may be aware of osteoporosis, a severe case of bone loss that weakens bones and increases the likelihood of fracture. But that isn’t the only condition that can affect your bones.

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Osteopenia can develop before osteoporosis. It is less severe than osteoporosis, and if it is caught soon enough, it can be treated, and bone density can be restored.

Put simply, osteoporosis can be thought of as pre-osteoporosis or perhaps a warning. Osteopenia is identified in people who have a lower bone mass or bone density for their age, yet it is not low enough to diagnose osteoporosis.

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If you have a bone mineral test and it comes out low, it’s your responsibility to follow your doctor’s directions to boost bone mass and do your best to prevent osteoporosis.

Treating osteopenia is all about preventing it from progressing to osteoporosis, full stop. A treatment plan would likely include:

  • A calcium-rich diet
  • Getting enough vitamin D, likely through some degree of supplementation
  • Adopting a resistance exercise program where bones must bear weight
  • Taking doctor-prescribed medication

Of course, you don’t really want to get to the point where you have osteopenia, either. Knowing that bone and mass and density decrease with age, it is advised to adopt a bone-healthy lifestyle.

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Thankfully, a lifestyle that’s good for your bones is good for most other parts of your body. A nutritious diet (with plenty of calcium), getting regular exercise (particularly weight-bearing exercise), and limiting alcohol can all help.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start taking care of your bones.

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