Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass In Women

    (BlackDoctor.org) — Bones are the framework for your body. Bone is living
    tissue that changes constantly, with bits of old bone being removed and replaced
    by new bone. You can think of bone as a bank account, where you make “deposits”
    and “withdrawals” of bone tissue.

    During childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn,
    so the skeleton grows in both size and density. Up to 90 percent of peak bone
    mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the
    best time to “invest” in your bone health.

    The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton, known as bone mass, can keep
    growing until around age 30. At that point, bones have reached their maximum
    strength and density, known as peak bone mass. In women, there tends to be
    minimal change in total bone mass between age 30 and menopause. But in the first
    few years after menopause, most women experience rapid bone loss, a “withdrawal”
    from the bone bank account, which then slows but continues throughout the
    postmenopausal years. This loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis. Given the
    knowledge that high peak bone density reduces osteoporosis risk later in life,
    it makes sense to pay more attention to those factors that affect peak bone

    Factors Affecting Peak Bone

    Peak bone mass is influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental
    factors. It has been suggested that genetic factors (those you were born with
    and cannot change, like your gender and race) may account for up to 75 percent
    of bone mass, while environmental factors (like your diet and exercise habits)
    account for the remaining 25 percent.

    Gender: Peak bone mass tends to
    be higher in men than in women. Before puberty, boys and girls acquire bone mass
    at similar rates. After puberty, however, men tend to acquire greater bone mass
    than women.

    Race: For reasons still not
    known, African American females tend to achieve higher peak bone mass than
    Caucasian females. These differences in bone density are seen even during
    childhood and adolescence.

    Hormonal factors: The hormone
    estrogen has an effect on peak bone mass. For example, women who had their first
    menstrual cycle at an early age and those who use oral contraceptives – which
    contain estrogen – often have high bone mineral density. In contrast, young
    women whose menstrual periods stop due to extremely low body weight or excessive
    exercise, for example, may lose significant amounts of bone density, which may
    not be recovered even after their periods return.

    Nutrition: Calcium is an
    essential nutrient for bone health. Calcium deficiencies in young people can
    account for a 5 to 10 percent difference in peak bone mass and can increase the
    risk for hip fracture later in life. Surveys indicate that teenage girls in the
    United States are less likely than teenage boys to get enough calcium. In fact,
    less than 10 percent of girls ages 9 to 17 are actually getting the calcium they
    need each day.

    Physical Activity: Girls and boys
    and young adults who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass
    than those who do not. Women and men older than age 30 can help prevent bone
    loss with regular exercise. The best exercise for your bones is weight-bearing
    exercise. This is exercise that forces you to work against gravity, such as
    walking, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, dancing, and weight

    Lifestyle Behaviors: Smoking has
    been linked to low bone density in adolescents and is associated with other
    unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol use and a sedentary lifestyle. The negative
    impact that smoking has on peak bone mass is further worsened by the fact that
    those who begin smoking at a younger age are more likely to be heavier smokers
    later in life. These older smokers are at further risk for bone loss and

    The impact of alcohol on peak bone mass is not clear. The effects of alcohol
    on bone have been more extensively studied in adults, and the results indicate
    that high consumption of alcohol has been linked to low bone density. Experts
    assume that high consumption of alcohol in youth has a similar adverse effect on
    skeletal health.

    NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center
    AMS Circle
    Bethesda,  MD 20892-3676
    Phone: 202–223–0344
    Toll Free:
    TTY: 202-466-4315
    Fax: 202-293-2356
    Email: NIAMSBoneInfo@mail.nih.gov

    The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center
    provides patients, health professionals, and the public with an important link
    to resources and information on metabolic bone diseases. The mission of NIH
    ORBD~NRC is to expand awareness and enhance knowledge and understanding of the
    prevention, early detection, and treatment of these diseases as well as
    strategies for coping with them.

    The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center is
    supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
    Diseases with contributions from:

    National Institute on Aging
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of
    Child Health and Human Development
    National Institute of Dental and
    Craniofacial Research
    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
    Kidney Diseases
    NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health
    DHHS Office on
    Women’s Health.
    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a component of
    the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS


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