Diabetes And Osteoporosis: Reducing The Risks

If you are a post-menopausal woman you probably have some concerns about osteoporosis, commonly referred to as thinning bones. The risk of osteoporosis rises for all women at this time, making the possibility of painful and debilitating fractures a real concern. What you may not know is that if you have diabetes, your risk of osteoporosis may also increase.

The Osteoporosis and Diabetes Connection

People with type 1 diabetes are at risk of developing osteoporosis, especially if their glucose levels are not well-controlled. It is thought that insulin promotes healthy bone growth and the lack of insulin in people with type 1 diabetes is responsible for low bone density. Those with type 2 diabetes typically have a higher bone density, but that doesn't mean you don't face risks. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any time, even after years of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Dangers of Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis have a lower bone density than their healthy peers. This means bones can fracture or break easily if you slip and fall. Because complications from diabetes, such as poor coordination, neuropathy and sudden drops in glucose levels (hypoglycemia), can increase the risk of slipping or falling, you may be more prone to broken bones and fractures. This holds true with diabetics with normal bone density, too, but osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures if you do slip and fall.

Preventing Osteoporosis

There are several things you can do to prevent or lessen bone density loss and osteoporosis. While a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, it is vital to those with diabetes. It helps you manage your condition and prevents a host of complications from the disease. It also helps to prevent osteoporosis.

  • Maintain Good Glucose Control: Keeping your blood sugar (glucose) levels under control will make you feel better and will minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis. It will also reduce the risk of other complications of diabetes. Take your medication as prescribed every day and have your levels checked frequently.
  • Exercise Regularly: Exercising regularly serves multiple purposes. It helps with glucose control, helps control weight and helps build strong bones. As an added bonus, exercise also helps relieve depression and fatigue. Weight-bearing exercise is necessary to build strong bones. Many enjoy walking, but there are other options. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate exercise program for you.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Diet is important to both keeping your diabetes under control and developing healthy bones. Include foods high in calcium, like low-fat dairy products and green, leafy vegetables to insure your body has the calcium it needs to build healthy bones. Avoid fatty and salty foods and restrict carbs to keep your body performing at its peak.
  • Get Enough Vitamin D: Your body needs more than calcium to build strong bones. It needs vitamin D, too, as vitamin D helps your body absorb and process calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, fatty fish, like mackerel and salmon, vitamin-fortified cereals and some orange juice and yogurt. The primary source of vitamin D is the sun. Getting outside everyday important, but if that's not possible, a vitamin D supplement can be added to the diet.
  • Take Medication, if Necessary: According to WebMD, there are six types of medications approved for use in preventing osteoporosis. Your doctor can help you decide which medication is right for you.

If you have diabetes and are concerned about developing osteoporosis, ask your doctor to perform a bone density test. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends all women 65 or older, and women of menopausal age who have risk factors, receive a bone density test to assess their bone health. 

For more info, talk with an osteoporosis specialist in your area.