Osteoporosis at a Young Age, What Causes It?

Osteoporosis or porous bone is a condition in which bone density decreases, so that its strength decreases and can cause fractures in the future. Many people associate this condition as a sign of aging. In fact, osteoporosis can also attack people who are still at a young age. How could that be?

What causes osteoporosis at a young age?

The risk of osteoporosis is usually higher in older people, especially in women who are going through menopause.

Made up of living and growing tissue, each day bones are in a constant state of renewal. When the old bone is broken, the body will make new bone and destroy the old bone.

When young, the replacement of old bone with new one occurs more quickly, thus increasing bone mass. Once you enter your early 20s, this process slows down.

In most cases, bone density reaches its peak by the age of 30. As we age, bone mass breaks down faster than it builds.

Well, in some cases, osteoporosis can occur earlier. So, what are the causes?

1. Lack of calcium intake

Calcium is one of the main nutrients needed to keep bones healthy. The body uses calcium to build bones and teeth and keep them strong as we age.

Not only for bones and teeth, calcium also plays a role in sending messages through the nervous system, helping blood clot, muscle contraction, and regulating heart rhythm.

When calcium intake is inadequate, the body will take calcium from your bones to maintain normal cell function. If left unchecked, over time bone density decreases and causes osteoporosis.

2. Late first menstruation

A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International shows that women who experience menarche over the age of 15 with low body weight tend to be at risk for osteoporosis at a young age. Menarche is a term that refers to the first menstruation.

This may be because the body begins to secrete estrogen from the ovaries when a person is menstruating. Estrogen plays an important role in the growth and replacement of bones in adults.

When menarche is late, the hormone estrogen produced will be less. This can also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Use of certain drugs

Actually, drugs rarely cause effects when only consumed in a short time. However, when used in the long term, certain types of drugs can cause bone loss.

Some types of drugs that commonly affect bone include glucocorticoids to treat autoimmune diseases, phenytoin and phenobarbital for epilepsy, GnRH agonists for endometriosis, and aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer.

4. Excessive alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause osteoporosis at a young age. Alcohol can interfere with the production of vitamin D, which is important for calcium absorption. As a result, the calcium balance is also disturbed.

Alcohol consumption in the long term can also cause a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone is involved in the production of osteoblasts, cells that stimulate bone formation. When this hormone is reduced, bone formation will be inhibited.

In addition, alcohol can trigger irregular menstrual cycles in women and increase cortisol which can decrease the ability of bone formation.

5. Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is a condition when the body cannot produce sex hormones. This condition is caused by a lack of hormones that can stimulate a man's testicles or a woman's ovaries. These include gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Hypogonadism can be caused by many factors, some of which are the use of opioid painkillers which can be addictive and obesity.

How to prevent osteoporosis at a young age?

Although there are risks that make you more susceptible to osteoporosis, you can still take precautions before the disease occurs.

The most important prevention of course is to meet the intake of calcium. As already explained, calcium is very influential for the formation of strong bones. Therefore, make sure the calcium needs are met.

According to the Regulation of the Minister of Health of Indonesia in 2019, the need for calcium at the age of 13 to 18 years is 1200 milligrams per day. Meanwhile, at the age of 19 years to 49 years, you need about 1000 milligrams of calcium per day.

Other nutrients that are not less important are vitamin D and protein. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium in the body, while protein plays a role in increasing bone mineral density.

In addition, do regular exercise for bone density 3 to 4 times a week. Exercise can help stimulate the cells that are responsible for building bones. Some of the exercise options you can do include running, aerobics, hiking, and tennis.

Next, stop or reduce habits that can have a negative impact on the body such as smoking and drinking alcohol.

If you have certain diseases that can increase your risk of osteoporosis at a young age, consult your doctor to get the right solution.

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