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    What Is a Bone Density Test and How Does it Work?

      |  Apr 12, 2023

    What Is Bone Density?

    Parents tell their children to drink milk so they can build strong, healthy bones. But looking after your bone health is just as important in adulthood. How can you check into the health of your bones as you age?

    The best way to accomplish this is by assessing your bone density. Learn more about this term and the testing process below.

    The Importance of Bone Density

    Bone density—the measure of how porous your bones are—is a key health metric. Since you can’t actively see or feel your bones getting weaker, bone density provides insights into bone health you wouldn’t get otherwise.

    Most people will reach their peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30 then slowly begin to lose bone mass.Your bones are more likely to break if you have low bone density. Even routine injuries like tripping or taking a minor fall can lead to broken bones. By testing your bone density, you can better understand your bone health and adjust your diet and exercise routines as necessary.

    What Is a Bone Density Test and How Does it Work?

    A bone density test is a non-invasive, painless test that provides an estimate of how dense your bones are. These tests use X-rays to scan key areas on your body like your hip, lower spine, and wrist bones. The test result is a number measuring the bones’ mineral density.

    Your healthcare provider will compare this number to a guideline based on your age and gender to assess your bone health. If you’re a postmenopausal woman or man over the age of 50, the health care provider compares your results against a healthy, average 30-year-old. If you’re a perimenopausal woman or man under 50 years old, your health care provider will compare you to people of the same age and gender.

    The test results will show whether your bone density is normal and healthy. If not, your health care provider will either diagnose you with low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis — a disease that makes your bones thin and weak, increasing the risk of fractures.

    When Should You Have Bone Density Testing?

    According to the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF), you should consider getting a bone density test done if you meet any of the following criteria:

    • You’re a woman aged 65 or older.

    • You’re a man aged 70 or older.

    • You’ve had a bone fracture or have certain risk factors since turning 50 years old.

    Additionally, height loss of 0.5 inches within a year and/or cumulative height loss of 1.5 total inches are signs you should go in for bone density testing.

    Tips for Promoting Bone Health

    You can’t increase your peak bone mass after 25 years old, but you can still protect the bone mass you have left. Apply these tips for promoting strong bone health:

    • Eat calcium-rich foods: Foods like cheese, yogurt, broccoli, and leafy greens are all rich in calcium, the most important mineral for bone health.

    • Incorporate weight-bearing and strength-training exercises into your routine: These exercises help protect against bone density loss in adults.

    • Consume more protein: Your bones are around 50% protein, so you need to get enough protein in your diet to keep your bones healthy.

    • Supplement as necessary: Taking bone health supplements is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough of all the vital nutrients that support bone health.

    • Quit smoking: Smoking hinders your body’s ability to absorb calcium, so add bone health to your list of reasons to quit this year!

    • Vitamin D Supplements: Vitamin D plays several roles in bone health, including helping your body absorb calcium.

    • Calcium Supplements: A 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium for optimal bone support.

    The best way to promote bone health is by understanding your body. With Modern Age’s comprehensive Aging Wellness Assessment, you’ll gain insight into your bone density as well as other key markers not included in your annual physical. Invest in your wellness and book a free consultation to learn more about your body’s changes and our Aging Wellness Assessment.