Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No
Skip to main content

How (and Why) To Take Care of Your Bones After 40

How (and Why) To Take Care of Your Bones After 40

Life may begin at 40, but that’s when bone cells start to die. Whether you’re a woman or a man, changes in your hormonal balance and metabolism influence the rate at which your bones build new cells and get rid of the old, dead ones. 

Lose too many old cells without replacing them with new ones, and soon your bones are lighter and weaker than they should be. 

The first stage, known as osteopenia, means that you’ve lost some bone mass. The second stage, osteoporosis, means that your bones have lost significant density and are at increased risk for breakage.

About 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis. Another 44 million have osteopenia, which puts them on the path toward osteoporosis. 

At the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, our board-certified rheumatologists want to keep your bones and joints healthy for life. That’s why we specialize in bone health and offer bone densitometry (DXA) scans to determine how healthy your bones are.

What’s your baseline?

Childhood and young adulthood are when you should build up your bones, because once you hit 40, your body starts making withdrawals.

Even if you consumed plenty of leafy greens and dairy as a child, adult habits such as drinking alcohol and coffee or living a sedentary life could start to affect your bone health. 

If you have a small frame, are Caucasian or Asian, and/or are a woman, you’re more likely to start with bones that are already on the light side. Certain habits raise your risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis, including:

You’re also at increased risk if you previously broke a bone, have a parent who broke a hip bone, or have rheumatoid arthritis.

What happens at 40

When you hit 40, whether your bones started out light or dense, they now start to lose mass. That’s because you stop creating enough new bone cells to replace the old ones.

The reason your bone production slows down is the same reason that everything slows down: Your hormone balance changes. Your body produces less estrogen and testosterone, which keep bone, skin, and muscles strong and dense. Your cells lose energy overall, too.

After age 40, you should do everything you can to keep your bones producing healthy new cells. That means consuming at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 1000 IU of vitamin D every day through diet and supplements. 

It also means getting plenty of exercise, including high-impact aerobics to stress your bones and resistance exercise such as weightlifting.

Building muscle has two bone benefits. First, strong muscles actually put pressure on your bones to keep them producing new cells. Second, strong muscles reduce your chance of a fall, which could fracture your bones.

What happens after 50

By the time women are in their early 50s, they’ve usually gone through menopause, which drastically reduces the amount of estrogen and testosterone they produce. They now should up their calcium intake to 1,200 mg per day

Men, too, enter a phase called andropause, during which they produce less bone- and muscle-building testosterone.

Unfortunately, women lose bone mass earlier and more rapidly than men do. That’s why it’s especially important to get regular DXA scans to monitor your bone mass and, if necessary, take medications or make lifestyle changes to maintain it. 

We recommend DXA scans every two years for: 

You may also start DXA scans earlier if you have a history of fractures or have an autoimmune disease or other condition that puts you at risk for fractures. If your bone scan shows osteopenia or osteoporosis, we customize a treatment plan to protect your bones and keep them as strong as possible.

Treatments for brittle bones

Just because your DXA scan is disappointing or frightening doesn’t mean that you will eventually suffer a severe fracture. By improving your diet and adding the right kinds of exercise, you can maintain your current bone mass or even improve it slightly. 

In addition to lifestyle changes, we may recommend medications.

If you’re at risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, book a DXA scan today so you can take protective measures to keep your bones strong and dense. If you already have significant bone loss, contact us about medications that maintain bone density.

We have locations in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Made?

How Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Made?

When you hear that platelet-rich plasma, made from your own blood, might alleviate your arthritis pain, you’re intrigued. How can a therapy that comes from your body help your body? It’s pretty simple. Here’s how it’s done.
Yes, You Can Remove Hair THERE

Yes, You Can Remove Hair THERE

It’s almost time to don your bathing suit. You’ve lost the muffin top, but still spill out … along the edges of your bikini bottom. You don’t have to shave or use a depilatory. Get rid of the hair, there, for good. Start now to be ready for summer.
7 Surprising Complications of Psoriatic Arthritis

7 Surprising Complications of Psoriatic Arthritis

When you have the skin condition psoriasis, you may be surprised when you develop a complication called psoriatic arthritis, which makes your joints painful and stiff, and has its own list of complications.