NORWALK, Conn., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half of people 50 and older are at risk for osteoporosis, the most common bone disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It is essential to make bone health a priority because bone loss occurs without symptoms.
"Osteoporosis, or the 'silent disease' as it is often called, is of particular concern to women, who are more susceptible to it," said Peggy Fleming, Olympic figure skating champion and HealthSaver spokesperson.
Bones protect the heart, lungs, brain and muscles, and store calcium, an essential nutrient. Without strong bones, the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones increases.
"Luckily it is never too late to prevent or treat osteoporosis," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver.
Be sure you get enough calcium in your diet and stay physically active. These are two of the most important things you can do to keep both your body and bones at optimal health.
Calcium is Essential
-- If you do not consume enough calcium, your body will take the calcium from your bones and use it to maintain healthy nerves, muscles and blood levels. This loss of calcium causes your bone structure to deteriorate and become fragile.
-- Since bone is living tissue that constantly renews itself, maintaining strong bones is of utmost importance, especially in our early years. After age 30, bone breakdown exceeds bone formation, causing us to reach our peak bone mass. It is therefore necessary, by age 30, to have accumulated enough calcium in our bones to maintain calcium requirements for both our skeletal structure and our body.
-- A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 78 percent of women and 55 percent of men over the age of 20 do not meet the recommended calcium intake. Adults aged 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and adults older than 50 need 1,200 mg.
-- Meet your daily calcium requirement with an English muffin and one cup of low-fat fruit yogurt for breakfast; a baked potato with skim mozzarella cheese, a cup of broccoli and a cup of baked beans for lunch; and an orange and a handful of almonds as an afternoon snack. An 8-oz. glass of milk is also a quick way to drink nearly one-third of your day's calcium requirements.
-- You can also enrich your meals with calcium. For pancakes, use milk instead of water. Add non-fat powdered milk to casseroles and soups. Or sprinkle low-fat cheese on salads. And don't forget about food labels. Aim for foods with at least 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium per serving.
-- Factors that increase a person's risk of developing osteoporosis include age, sex, family history, body size, inadequate calcium intake, lack of physical activity and certain lifestyle choices.
-- As you grow older, your body develops bone less quickly. Weak bones, however, are not a natural part of aging.
-- People with a family history of fractures tend to have reduced bone mass, according to the U.S. Department of Health. If broken bones are frequent in your family, take extra steps to ensure optimum bone health.
-- Excessive alcohol consumption hinders the body's ability to absorb calcium, resulting in reduced bone mass. Smoking also reduces the body's ability to use calcium efficiently.
-- People who weigh less than 127 pounds may have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
Ladies, Take Special Care
-- Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, due, in part, to menopause. Menopause reduces the production of the female hormone estrogen, which helps keep bones strong and intact. For several years after menopause, women lose bone up to four times faster than they did before. Women also have less bone tissue and lower bone mass than men.
-- Women's risk for hip fractures, the most destructive type of bone fracture, is equal to their risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Use It or Lose It
-- When you are physically active, your body receives a signal alerting your bones to become stronger. New cells are then added to strengthen bone. Therefore, if you do not exercise, your bones do not receive the message that they need to be strong.
-- The U.S. Department of Health recommends 30 minutes of physical activity each day for adults, and 60 minutes for children.
-- Weight-bearing exercises are best for preventing bone loss because bones become denser when called upon to work against gravity. Examples of weight-bearing activities include hiking, tennis and - if you prefer the gym - stair-climbing machines.
Vitamin D and Supplements
-- Calcium isn't the only element needed for healthy bones. Vitamin D is also necessary. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium by helping it enter the bloodstream.
-- The main source of vitamin D is sunlight. Just 15 minutes per day is all you need. Your diet can also provide vitamin D.
-- If you're not consuming enough vitamin D or calcium, you may want to consider a dietary supplement. The most popular calcium supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Look for "USP" on the label to ensure the supplement meets standards established by the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
-- To get the most out of your calcium supplement, take in doses no larger than 500 mg. Also be careful not to take with iron supplements, as they may interfere with each other.
Talk to Your Doctor
-- People who fracture a bone after the age of 50, and women older than 65, should be routinely screened for osteoporosis.
-- Three out of four women age 45 - 75 have never spoken to their physician about osteoporosis, according to the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research & Education. Be proactive with your health. Discuss with your doctor your risk for bone disease, the need for a bone density test, your calcium and vitamin D intake and your medications.
-- Your doctor may recommend a bone mineral density test to determine your bone health. This test is quick and painless, and can help determine the rate of bone loss, detect low bone density and confirm a diagnosis.
-- Though osteoporosis does not have a cure, certain medications can stop or slow bone loss, and even help build new bone.
Osteoporosis prevention and treatment isn't just about broken bones. It's about sustaining a strong skeletal structure, preventing disability in your older years and keeping your body at optimum health.
HealthSaver, an emerging health care discount program, offers savings on prescriptions, vision care, complementary and alternative health care treatments, vitamins and supplements by mail and more than 1,500 fitness clubs nationwide, including select Bally Total Fitness, World Gym and Ladies Workout Express locations.
HealthSaver offers discounts of 20 percent on vision care, as well as discounts of 10 to 50 percent on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, 20 percent off complementary and alternative health care treatments and fitness club benefits. HealthSaver also offers discounts of 10 to 35 percent on dental care services at some 42,000 participating provider locations nationwide, including routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, orthodontics, and even popular cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening. Members can also save from 5 to 50 percent off vitamins and supplements by mail. Discounts are based upon reasonable and customary costs or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and are only available from participating providers. HealthSaver is not an insurance product or service. More information about HealthSaver is available online at http://www.healthsaver.com or toll free by calling 1-800-7HEALTH (1-800-743-2584). A one month trial membership in HealthSaver (http://www.healthsaver.com or 1-800-743-2584) costs $1 and can be canceled anytime during the trial period. Unless the member calls to cancel during the trial, membership will be extended automatically and billed to a credit card number at the $149.99 annual fee. Members may call toll free to cancel at any time and receive a refund of the unused portion of their current year's fee. HealthSaver is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.
About Affinion Group, Inc.
As a global leader with nearly 35 years of experience, Affinion Group
(http://www.affinion.com) enhances the value of its partners' customer
relationships by developing and marketing valuable loyalty, membership,
checking account, insurance and other compelling products and services.
Leveraging its expertise in product development and targeted marketing,
Affinion helps generate significant incremental revenue for more than 5,300
affinity partners worldwide, including many of the largest and most
respected companies in financial services, retail, travel, and Internet
commerce. Based in Norwalk, Conn., the company has approximately 3,300
employees throughout the United States and in 10 countries across Europe.
Affinion holds the prestigious ISO 27001 certification for the highest
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