You may not think that looking in the mirror could help your bone health. After all, some call osteoporosis the “silent disease” because many people don’t realize something is wrong with their bones until they suffer from a fracture. But there are actually several ways that your appearance provides clues to what’s going on with your bone health and helps you take steps to correct any issues. As a result, you’ll both look and feel great, which is what the Better Bones, Better Body approach is all about.
Questions to ask about your appearance and what the answers might mean:
• Do you have deep wrinkles? Women with deeper wrinkles may have a higher risk of fractures, according to researchers who looked at the skin changes of the face and neck along with the bone health of postmenopausal women ages 45-58. They think that the loss of collagen is connected to both wrinkles and lower bone density.
• Are your gums receding? Receding gums rank as one of the top 6 signs of bone loss and it’s actually quite common! This is because our teeth are connected to the jaw bone, so if the jaw is losing bone, gums can recede. We’ve also seen that jaw bone loss has been associated with lower bone mineral density in areas such as the vertebrae of the lumbar spine.
• Do you have brittle hair or fingernails? Weak, brittle nails are often a sign that you aren’t getting enough of the key nutrients needed for healthy bone growth and repair. In some cases, hair loss can also be a sign of certain nutritional deficiencies such as not getting enough vitamin D — one of the most critical nutrients for bone health.
• Do you look happy and free of worry? I’ve noted that beauty is bone deep based on my belief that the happiness and energy that come from good health and a sense of well-being make us truly beautiful. Of all the risk factors we can control in regards to our bone health, how we respond to stress, and lessen its impact on our lives, is one of the most important.
Taking a closer look at all the signals
In addition to these four examples, I’ve developed a complete Bone Health Profile that takes a closer look at the wide range of factors that can signal you’re at risk for weakening bones before it’s too late. You may be surprised that about 20% of your bone health is determined by fixed factors — the rest is well within your control. I encourage you to take the Bone Health Profile today.
Pal, Lubna (June, 2011) Presentation, American Society of Endocrinology, Boston.