Age-Related Changes in Bone Health

Written by: Brilliant Staff

Fact checked by: Kelsey Butler, RDN

Age-Related Changes in Bone Health

As we age, our bones naturally become less dense. Understanding how bone health shifts throughout our lives and implementing preventative strategies can help us maintain strength and reduce risks in our senior years.

How Bone Health Changes with Age

From birth through adulthood, our bodies continually build new bone tissue. Bone density increases until around age 30, as new bone is formed faster than old bone is broken down.

After age 30, bone renewal slows. More bone is reabsorbed back into the body than is replaced. Loss accelerates for women at menopause and for men around age 65

Gradually, the inner bone becomes less dense. Thinning is most rapid in the first few years after menopause but continues into later life for both men and women.

Bone Changes in Women

Women are especially susceptible to lower bone density after menopause. This is because estrogen levels are naturally lower after menopause, negatively impacting bone health. 

In the five to seven years after menopause, women can lose up to 20% of their bone density as estrogen withdrawal quickens bone breakdown and formation slows. These changes put women at higher risk for bone concerns. 

Bone Changes in Men

While women experience rapid bone loss at menopause, men's bone loss is more gradual. Testosterone levels decrease about 1% per year after age 30, causing a slow decline in bone density.

Promoting Healthy Bones

The good news is there are many preventative strategies to maintain strong bones as you age. These strategies include the following:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D: Meeting daily recommended intakes can help preserve bone mass. Adults aged 51 to 70 need 1,200 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D daily.
  • Do weight-bearing and resistance exercises: Activities like walking, jogging, tennis, and strength training stress the bones, encouraging the body to rebuild and strengthen them.
  • Don't smoke: Smoking weakens the bones and increases risk. Quitting can help your bones.
  • Limit alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption interferes with bone-building. Moderate drinking is safer for bone health.
  • Get bone density tests: DEXA scans measure bone mineral density and help doctors assess risk. Testing can indicate if medication is needed.

Making lifestyle choices that promote bone health and getting screened are vital in maintaining strength and active, fracture-free years. Be proactive about your bone health as you age!


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