Bone Loss: Complete Overview of Bone Loss

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Aug 5, 2013 | Last Updated: Aug 11, 2018

Bone Loss

Bone loss occurs when an old bone is broken faster than a new bone is made. During your lifetime, resorption occurs; a process where your body constantly breaks down old bones and make new bones. Whenever an old bone is broken faster than new bone is made, it is said to net bone loss has occurred.

Bone loss can lead to osteopenia; this is a condition where the bone density is lower than the normal but not low enough that in the case of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is considered the alternate name for bone loss.

Bone Loss Causes

Bone loss occurs when more bones are broken down than new ones are formed. There are several factors that cause bone loss. These factors include Vitamin D deficiency, low amount of Calcium in your body, age; when you get older you are at risk of bone loss compared to when you are below the age of 30, this is because of the rate of resorption increases after the first 3 decades of your life.

You are at risk of bone loss if you are not engaged in physical activities. Exercises such as walking for some few miles a day, jogging, swimming, and weightlifting will make your bones strong and increase the bone density. Other factors that can cause bone loss are substance abuse such as:

  • Smoking – Men and women who smoke have weaker bones which can fracture easily.
  • Alcoholism – Taking too much alcohol can increase the risk of bone loss especially when you take alcohol in large quantities on a daily basis. Alcohol can also make you fall down leading to fractures and even breaking your bones.
  • Taking certain Medication such as Corticosteroids – These are wide medications prescribed for different types of diseases such as lupus, asthma, inflammatory bowel movement, arthritis joint pain to name a few.

Bone Loss and Aging

Bone Loss and Aging

As you grow older, the rate of resorption increases compared to the rate of new bones that are formed. After the age of 30, remodelling start taking course. In women, bone loss occurs faster in the first few years after menopause than before they reach menopause, and it always continues throughout the old age.

To men, bone loss occurs later in life but this does not mean they are at low risk during the young age. Actually at the age of 65, men will have the same rate of bone loss compared with women.

Bone Health and Lifestyle

The habits you adopt can affect your age bone health for the rest of your life. You are at high risk of bone loss if you engage in excessive alcoholism, and smoking. If you don’t engage in physical activities in your life you are also at risk of bone loss because your bones will become weak and susceptible to fractures.

Bone loss and Disease

There are several diseases and conditions that can make you at risk of bone loss. Some of the conditions and diseases require you to take some kind of medications which can further increase your risk for osteoporosis and bone loss. Some of these diseases will make you not be able to be engaged in physical activities which will further make your bones weak and prone to fractures. Examples of these medications are steroids and some therapies.

These diseases and conditions include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, hyperthyroidism, several types of cancer such as leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma; sickle cell disease and organ transplants.

Other disorders and conditions that can cause bone loss are multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, celiac disease, diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, thyrotoxicosis, Cushing’s syndrome, low level of testosterone in men, low levels of estrogen in men and women, multiple myeloma, blood and bone marrow disorders, thalassemia, stroke disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, anorexia nervosa in women, emphysema, female athlete triad, kidney diseases, liver diseases, polio, and scoliosis.

Human, just like other vertebrates, has bones. Bones play a vital role in your body. They are responsible for your body structure, supporting your muscles and protecting your organs. You should keep your bones healthy so that they can be able to perform their functions.

Bones require Calcium and other minerals such as Phosphorus, Zinc, and Magnesium to be healthy. These minerals can be obtained from various foods such as oily fish, dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and fortified cereals. Vitamin D is also important for bone health, without vitamin D, Calcium will not be absorbed in your body.

What are the Different Conditions that may Cause Bone Loss?

Different Conditions that may Cause Bone Loss

There are several conditions that may cause bone loss. They include:

  • Autoimmune Disorders:

    These are disorders which cause the immune system to attack and destroy your healthy body tissues and antigen. Examples of these disorders include Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis. These diseases affect the spinal cord making it not flexible resulting in a stooped posture called kyphosis. In Multiple sclerosis, your immune system destroys myelin which covers your nerves causing communication interference between your brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. Some of these diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and lupus are treated by steroids which can increase your risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.

  • Digestive and Gastrointestinal Disorders:

    These disorders affect your digestive system which includes the esophagus, ileum, large and small intestines, duodenum, and stomach These disorders includes: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease. While ulcerative colitis usually affects the linings of the large intestines, the Crohn’s disease affects any part of your digestive tract and gets deeper into the affected tissue which then affects the absorption of Calcium needed for healthy bones. The symptom of these diseases includes diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and pain in the rectum. The Celiac disease also makes it difficult for the body to absorb Calcium causing a deficiency in the body which increases the risk of bone loss. The Celiac disease doesn’t have noticeable symptoms and it is advisable you have a test for it.

  • Hormonal Disorder:

    These disorders disrupt the endocrine glands in your body. Endocrine glands are responsible for releases of different types of hormones into your bloodstream. The endocrine glands include the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, parathyroid, thyroid, thymus, hypothalamus, ovaries, pineal glands, testes, and islet cells in the pancreas.

    Hormonal disorders cause the hormones to be either produced in excess or hinder their products which can result in bone loss, fragile bones, and other bone diseases such as osteoporosis, and osteopenia. Examples of hormonal disorders and conditions include diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome/hypercortisolism-occurs when your body is exposed to extreme levels of cortisol, thyrotoxicosis, irregular periods and premature menopause, low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men, a hyperthyroidism-a condition where the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormones, and hyperparathyroidism.

  • Blood Disorders:

    These disorders usually affect the three main parts of blood which are the white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells. These disorders are also called hematologic disorders. Examples of these blood disorders include multiple myeloma, leukemia, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia. Multiple myeloma and leukemia affect the bone marrow which weakens your bones making them easy to break. If you suffer from leukemia, chemotherapies are used for its treatment which can put you at risk of bone loss. Sickle cell disease or sickle cell anemia (SCA) and thalassemia are passed down through families with a history of the diseases and their treatment usually involves use of steroids which can lead to bone loss.

  • Nervous System Disorder:

    These are disorders that affect our nervous system which includes the brain and the spinal cord. The nervous system is involved in the caring of messages to and from the brain to the other parts of your body. Examples of nervous diseases or neurological disorders are multiple sclerosis (MS), Stroke’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases make you weak and not able to be engaged in physical activities; they also make you easy to fall down when walking because of the weak bones, and also have vitamin D deficiency.

  • Mental Illness:

    These are disorders that affect the psychological being. Examples of these disorders are eating disorders such as:

    Anorexia Nervosa and Bigorexia:

    Women who have anorexia nervosa will have decreased estrogen causing them to have abnormal menstrual periods or sometimes even no menstrual periods. The low levels of estrogen can increase the chances of bone loss and osteoporosis. Bigorexia is a disorder that makes someone to workout excessively, and the patients can take supplements in place of food. Working out excessively can sometimes overwork your bones or injure them leading to fractures. Too much supplements in place of food is not recommended because the supplements can have side effects.


    Research indicates people who have depression are more likely to have low bone density and are prone to osteoporosis.

  • Cancer:

    Some cancers can increase your risk of bone loss and fractures. Examples of these types of cancer include the prostate cancer and the breast cancer. Prostate cancer affects the prostate glands which are found in a man. The medications used for treatment of the cancer such as the androgen deprivation therapy decreases the levels male sex hormones. The reduction of the hormones can lead to bone loss and fractured bones. In breast cancer medication, the aromatase inhibitors are largely used for treatment especially to women who have estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. The inhibitors usually reduces the estrogen levels, low levels of estrogen in the body can cause bone loss fractured bones.

It is your personal duty to keep your bones healthy so that they can function properly. This doesn’t take you a lot of things to ensure the bones are healthy. Here are some of the things you can do to prevent bone loss and make them healthy:

Bone Loss Prevention Tips


You should make it a routine to engage in physical activities. There is unlimited number of exercises you can do to make your bones strong and healthy. Examples of these exercises can be done by just taking a walk for some few miles, jogging, running, stair-climbing, hiking, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and even going to the gym where you can do a number of exercises such as weight lifting. Other exercises that are good for your bones include yoga and Tai chi; these will increase your body balance.


During the sunny days, you can atleast bask in the sun for about half an hour. A bask a day will go a long way. Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb Calcium from your diet. You get a lot of vitamin D from the sunlight compared to what you get from your diet.

Healthy Diet:

Ensure you have a diet rich in Calcium and vitamin D. These are important nutrients for the making of your bones. Examples of foods that have these nutrients include milk, cheese sardines, fortified cereals, yogurt, and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and collard green. If you are not able to get enough of these nutrients from your food, you can use supplements. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are available in the market.

Things You Should Avoid:

You should avoid habits that can put you at risk of bone loss and fractures. These habits include taking large amount of alcohol and smoking. People who indulge in excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking have weak bones which can easily fracture. Excessive consumption of alcohol can make you easily fall leading to bone fractures. These habits can also lead to severe diseases such as osteoporosis.

With all these observed, you are not only less likely to develop bone diseases but also have a general good health. No one wants to have a low quality life because of things they can control.

Top Four Benefits of Healthy Bones

There are a lot benefits that comes with healthy bones. The following are the top four benefits of healthy bones:

1. Freedom from Osteoporosis:

When you are healthy, you are less likely to develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease where your bone mineral density is drastically below normal levels which can make the bones susceptible to fractures. Strong bones won’t easily fracture and will have high mineral density.

2. Improved Overall Health:

Healthy bones contribute to the overall general health of your body. Bone diseases can lead to other severe health conditions that can affects other parts of your body. Examples of these diseases are osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, and osteogenesis imperfect. These diseases can lead to poor physical health and low quality life which can make you unable to walk, stand or even dressing yourself. These diseases also cause painful fractures and in severe conditions can lead to premature death.

3. Fracture Prevention:

When you have healthy bones it means your bones are strong. Strong bones will not be easily fractured in case you have minor accidents such as a slip. Your healthy bones will also be able to tolerate stress of sudden impacts.

4. Storage of Minerals Such as Calcium and Phosphorus:

Disease-free bones will be able to retain minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorus. These minerals are important for bones and other body metabolic processes. The stored minerals in the bones are also used by other parts of the body in case of deficiency and are replaced later when eat diet rich of these nutrients.

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