Bone Health and Osteoporosis

We hardly discuss bones during health seminars and conferences. Yet, their main functions - support, protection, assistance in movement, muscle anchorage, and storage for minerals like calcium and phosphorus, cannot be overemphasized. 

Just like every other tissue in your body, there are certain things necessary for the health of your bones. Unhealthy bones have long-term consequences, and one of them can be osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a medical condition that affects the bones. It is coined from two Latin words "osteo" for bones and "porosis" meaning porous. When you place these words side by side, they mean "porous bones".

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. A healthy bone has small pieces within it, like a mesh or honeycomb. In osteoporosis, these spaces increase in size resulting in the bone becoming weaker and more brittle. When this happens to your bones, you are at a high risk of falls and fractures.

Bone spongy structure vector illustration, normal and with osteoporosis

Body cells are in a constant "breaking down and replacement" process. The same applies to bone cells, although your bones reach their peak in density and strength in your late twenties. Osteoporosis occurs when the rate at which bone cells are broken down is higher than how they are replaced.

It can occur at any age, but it is frequently seen in older adults. Also, an individual is more likely to develop osteoporosis if it runs in their family, usually parents. It is more common in women, affecting 25% of women, 65 and older but only 5% of men in the same age range. In other words, women are five times more likely to get it than men. Usually, women after the age of 50 are more vulnerable to developing the disease.

In America, about 54 million people live with osteoporosis and low bone mass which increases their chances of developing osteoporosis.

elder husband helping senior wife having spine injury osteoporosis

Osteoporosis vs. Osteopenia

Some people feel these two are the same but they are not. Osteopenia unlike osteoporosis isn't a disease. Rather, it is a state of having a lower bone density than normal. However, the bones are not as weak as how they are in osteoporosis.

Majorly, osteopenia is a risk factor for osteoporosis and as such, you need to strengthen your bones.

Four stages of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic bone and healthy bone structure in comparison

How does Bone Health Affect Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a childhood disease with old-age consequences. This implies that whether or not a person will develop osteoporosis depends on his childhood. The bone mass attained at such a stage determines how healthy your bones will be when you grow older.

As such you must take care of your children's bones right from a tender age. Find here 6 Tips on how to keep your bones healthy.

Osteoporosis has several causes, so it is vital to take note of them and control those that you can. 

12 Causes of Osteoporosis & Bone Loss

Factors that you cannot modify include old age, being a female, family history, and being white or Asian are beyond your control.

However, as a parent, you can influence the following factors:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Alcohol Consumption
  4. Smoking Tobacco

How do these Factors Relate to Osteoporosis?

It's crucial that your kids develop healthy habits to prevent osteoporosis. Don't forget that although it strikes hard in old age, it can affect any age group. Do you want to know how these modifiable factors, directly and indirectly, affect the bones of your children? Here's what you need to know.

1. Diet

Providing your kids with a balanced diet is beneficial to their bones, especially foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Your kid's body uses these nutrients to build strong and healthy bones.

In case you're lost on how you can achieve that, add these foods to their diet. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D include dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables, and fortified foods. Proteins are also needed for building and repairing bones. Try out one of our favorite 9 tasty bone health recipes.

Foods rich in calcium such as sardines, bean, dried figs, almonds, hazelnuts, parsley leaves, blue poppy seed, broccoli, italian cabbage, cheese, milk, yogurt

Furthermore, nutritional supplements are necessary for your kids as they grow physically and otherwise. This is because certain foods interfere with how calcium is absorbed and made available in the body. They include beans, wheat (or wheat bread), salty foods, spinach, and foods high in oxalates, coffee, tea, and sodas. This doesn't make them wrong food choices, as they have other benefits. However, they give reasons why you should include nutritional supplements in your children's diet. Supplements can fill the your kid's nutritional gaps like calcium and vitamin D.

Foods rich in refined sugars and fats should be reduced to the barest minimum. Too much of them have adverse effects on the bones and increase the risks of fractures.

2. Exercise

Exercise is another essential factor that influences bone health. It makes bones stronger, promotes balance and good posture, and slow the rate of bone loss. 

The types of exercises that work best with building bones are called weight-bearing exercises. They include walking, running, climbing, and jumping. More fun ways for kids to engage in sports are often tennis, basketball, hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, etc. Or you can try our fun Top 8 Bone Strengthening Exercises with your kids to increase your bone strength.

Collage of 9 childrens in sport and healthy lifestyle. Hockey, gymnastick, badminton, football, soccer, tennis, figure skating, athletics, taekwondo.

Kids (ages 6 to 17) are to have 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily. These exercises, according to the CDC, are to include aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.

This implies that if your children and adolescents do not get enough exercise or physical activity, their bones get weak. Weak bones will result in an increased risk for falls and fractures.

3. Alcohol Consumption

You may take small quantities of alcohol as a parent. However, you should never give any alcohol to your children. First and foremost, it can affect your kids' health and bones. Secondly, it encourages them to drink as they grow into teenagers.

Teenagers usually want to feel good, as painted in TV shows and movies. This makes them take alcohol in excess. Heavy alcohol intake results in low bone mineral density and inhibits, reaching peak bone mass. Both of these effects are risk factors for osteoporosis. 

Alcohol also reduces the amounts of calcium and vitamin D needed for bone growth and causes bone loss.

Young man with short blond hair lying on the floor and is surrounded by many empty beer and liquor bottles, upper perspective

4. Smoking Tobacco

Smoking is encouraged in pop culture that kids watch on TV. Also, peer pressure is something many older children deal with. Encourage your children to stay away from smoking. 

Not only does it affect bones, but it's also linked to cancers, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and hear disease. In bone health, it affects how much of bone cells are replaced and leads to lower bone mass. This inevitably results in osteoporosis.

Quit Smoking. Closeup Of Beautiful Girl Holding Broken Cigarette In Hands


There you have it. As a parent, you need to be involved in your children's health and prevent aging diseases, especially osteoporosis. How well they support their bones now determines how healthy and strong their bones will be as they grow older. With good bone health, osteoporosis can be prevented. 



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Chatterjee, B. & Patel, T. (2016). Carbonated Drinks Displaces Milk and Fruit Beverages. International Journal of Innovation Research, 4(4), 40-43. Retrieved from:

Das, J.K., Lassi, Z.S., Hoodbhoy, Z., Salam, R.A. (2018). Nutrition for the Next Generation: Older Children and Adolescents. Annuals of Nutrition and Metabolism 72(3), 56-64. Retrieved from:

LaBrie, J.W., Boyle, S., Earle, A., Almstedt, H.C. (2018). Heavy Episodic Drinking is Associated with Poorer Bone Health in Adolescent and Young Adult Women. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 79(3), 391-398. Retrieved from:

Tan, V.P.S. et al. (2014). Influence of Physical Activity on Bone Strength in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 29(10), 2161-2181.

Unah, J. (2018). Effects of Alcohol Use Upon Bone Health. Nursing Capstones, 154. Retrieved from:

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