How healthy are your bones?

Most of us take our bones for granted. With the exception of our teeth, they’re invisible, doing their important work of supporting us and maintaining our health behind the scenes. Unless we have an x-ray or DEXA scan that shows that our bones are deteriorating, we’re unlikely to find out that we have problems in our bone health unless we actually break one — and then, it’s too late to take steps to prevent the problem.

One reason that BetterBones.com exists is to raise awareness of the steps that everyone can take to improve their bone health and lower their risk of bone loss, osteoporosis, and fractures. Bone health research has identified many factors that contribute to bone loss in men and women; some of these are innate and can’t be changed — age, gender, body type, and genetics, for example — but many others are a by-product of cultural influences and personal habits, which can be altered. Improving intake of specific key nutrients, changing activity patterns, and addressing stress in our lives are important ways we can change our bone health for the better. Our goal is to increase our readers’ understanding of these factors so that they can make decisions about how to live in a bone-healthy manner.

It used to be the case that only a doctor could assess your risk level using DEXA scans and other tests, but in 2008, the World Health Organization developed a Fracture Risk Assessment Tool called FRAX® that incorporates many key osteoporotic fracture risk factors. It was a great step forward in helping people better estimate their real fracture risk, but unfortunately it’s limited in scope. There are many factors that vary from individual to individual that a broad-based assessment can’t review. Many of the important factors relating to bone health are related to an individual’s overall lifestyle, particularly diet and exercise, which the FRAX® tool cannot adequately address. For this reason, we developed our own Fracture Risk and Bone Health Profile assessment tool to get you started in making the changes that will help improve your bone health.

Although the Fracture Risk and Bone Health Profile is no substitute for a bone scan for establishing your current bone status, it can provide you with information that can either reassure you that your likelihood of osteoporotic fracture is low, or alternatively let you understand that your bone health is a matter of concern. By telling you the likelihood that you’ll experience a fracture within the next 10 years, this tool empowers you to take the steps you need to improve your risk profile. Unlike the FRAX® tool, it also offers concrete suggestions for addressing your risk factors.

At betterbones.com, we’re dedicated to assisting those concerned about their bone health — and one way we help is by offering information that allows you to determine your bone health. In this section, you’ll find tools that will help you assess your fracture risk, examine your diet, and develop an understanding of why bone health matters so much to our overall health and well-being. We hope that these will help you to get started toward a healthier body founded on stronger, more flexible bones.

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