Bones are the skeleton that keeps us together and keeps us mobile. Hormones are really important to bone health and strength. When we are young, we don’t really think of it in those terms. We don’t think about how strong or weak our bones are or how important it is to keep them strong. We tend to focus on keeping our muscles strong. Too much or too little of certain hormones in the body can contribute to osteopenia and osteoporosis. The conditions in which bones become weak and are more likely to fracture or break.
Osteoporosis is a progressive condition in which bones become weak and more likely to fracture or break. Osteopenia is the more moderate decline in bone mass—a mild version of osteoporosis.
When we are young, the amount of bone lost and bone gained remains balanced. During childhood and early adult life, bone mass (size and thickness) increases, which makes sense with that being the timeframe of puberty and growth throughout the whole body. After mid-life, more bone is broken down than is formed and bone mass slowly declines.
OSTEOPOROSIS AND HORMONES
There are a handful of circumstances that we naturally go through in life that contributes to bone loss. Some include the following:
- Menopause. During this period, the ovaries make less estrogen. With that being said, estrogen-related bone protection is diminished.
- Aging in men. Similar to women, men produce less of their sex hormone- testosterone- which can contribute to bone loss.
- Pituitary or adrenal gland malfunctions. When the pituitary gland or adrenal gland are not working optimally, excess cortisol can be produced, which may lead to damaged bones.
- Other hormone imbalances. A thyroid gland can speed the rate at which bone is lost. Your body may not be able to replace the bone loss quickly enough to balance it out.
UNCONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS
As many of us want to do all we can to stay young and healthy, there are some natural factors working against us:
- Being over 50
- Being female
- Family history
- Low body weight
- Being Caucasian or Asian
While there are some uncontrollable risk factors, there are also steps you can take to lessen your chance of osteoporosis/osteopenia:
- High calcium diet
- Increase sun exposure to increase vitamin D levels, and/or take vitamin D supplements
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Weight bearing exercise
- Avoid cigarette smoking and do not abuse alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight
In addition to lifestyle changes, maybe you need that extra boost to help your bones. Optimization of estrogen and testosterone can prevent and help reverse osteopenia and osteoporosis. We have seen this in our patients! It simply involves adding in those extra hormones back into your body. There are many options such as pill form, creams, or pellets.