How to Prevent and Manage Osteopenia

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Osteopenia represents a loss of bone mineral density, but people with osteopenia should work bone health into their diet and lifestyle routines. You can take simple measures to help stimulate your bones to stay healthy and slow bone loss by learning more about osteopenia diagnosis and osteopenia medications.


The Best Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis

Managing and Preventing Osteopenia

Diet: Your bones need calcium and other nutrients to maintain their strength. The best sources of these are natural ones: milk, dairy products, and green vegetables. You can also take calcium supplements, though you should talk to your healthcare provider first. Many of the calcium supplements need to be taken with other supplements to be effective (and some types of calcium are better than others).

Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises stimulate your bones to become stronger. Lifting weights, walking, dancing and anything that puts some weight on your bones will help.

Avoid Smoking, Alcohol and More: Smoking, too much alcohol, caffeine, and even sodas can work against your body as you try to build up your bones. Cut back on these.

Vitamin D: Your body needs healthy levels of vitamin D to properly absorb calcium. You can keep your vitamin D levels up by spending about 15 minutes in the sun every day (hands and face exposed) or by taking a vitamin D supplement.

Make Your Bones Thick

People with strong, thick bones at age 30 have the smallest risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis. Here are some easy things you can do to give yourself the best chance possible of avoiding osteopenia and osteoporosis in your future:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Exercise often and make sure your exercises put some strain on your bones (running and lifting weights, for example, are good for your bones).
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking harms your bones.
  • Avoid cola drinks (diet and regular). Cola drinks have phosphoric acid in them, which may speed the loss of calcium in your bones.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.

Preventing Falls

The biggest danger in osteopenia is the increased risk of fracturing a hip or your back if you fall. If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia, take special care to prevent falls. Here are some common sense things you can do to lower your risk of falling:

  • Avoid walking when it is icy.
  • Make sure your home is well lit.
  • Install railings near the bathtub.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and give support.
  • Pay attention when you are walking.
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  • Khosla S, Melton LJ. Clinical practice. Osteopenia. N Engl J Med. 2007;356(22):2293-300. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp070341

  • MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: "Bone mineral density test."
  • MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: "Osteoporosis"
  • National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis." 2008.
  • National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis." Feb. 2008.

By Mark Stibich, PhD
Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.