By John Salak –
Low bone density is never a good condition, especially for mature adults. It can lead to osteoporosis and brittle and fragile bones, which can be particularly dangerous for older individuals. Unfortunately, these adults are the exact type of people most likely to get hit with bone problems because of physical inactivity and poor nutrition. They also may have dementia.
These two conditions may be linked. A study out of the Netherlands suggests that those suffering from low bone density are at a higher risk of dementia than those not afflicted.
“Little is known about bone loss that occurs in the period leading up to dementia. Our study found that bone loss already occurs before dementia and thus is linked to a higher risk of dementia, “said study author Dr. Mohammad Arfan Ikram of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.
Ikram’s work involved studying more than 3,600 people with an average age of 72 who did not have dementia at the study’s start. His team found that for 11 years,19 percent of these people developed dementia. Researchers also examined the developing degrees of bone density in the participants.
The link was unmistakable. Those with the lowest bone density were more than 40 percent more likely to develop dementia over ten years. The results stopped short of establishing whether low bone density helped cause dementia.
“Previous research has found factors like diet and exercise may impact bones differently and the risk of dementia,” Ikram explained. “Our research has found a link between bone loss and dementia, but further studies are needed to understand this connection between bone density and memory loss. Bone loss may occur in the earliest phases of dementia, years before any clinical symptoms manifest themselves. If that were the case, the bone loss could indicate a risk for dementia. People with bone loss could go for screening and improved care.”
Regardless of whether low bone density leads to dementia, promoting bone health is wise at any age, according to the Mayo Clinic, which recommends several steps to treat low bone density.
The clinic recommends including calcium in diets: 1,000 milligrams daily for men 19 to 70 and older and 1,200 milligrams for women over 50 and men over 70. Vitamin D is also a must, with 600 international units (IUs) daily for those 19 to 70 and 800 IUs for older adults.
Daily physical activity is also recommended, especially weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging or climbing stairs. Keep smoking and alcohol consumption to a minimum.