bone health

true. on Fox 17: Summer Bone Health

Bone health is a big deal for women! Women typically reach their peak bone mass around age 32 and start losing bone afterward. Bone loss is also silent; if too much bone is lost, women risk developing osteoporosis and risking a fracture from minimal trauma. This week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner discusses using summer sunshine and outdoor activities to build bone mass and improve bone health.

Fact #1:

It is possible to get enough Vitamin D without increasing your risk of melanoma or other skin cancers. The key to skin health is using lots of sunscreen and creams, preferably containing zinc oxide. 

UV radiation from the sun breaks down the DNA in skin cells. As the DNA breaks down, the body has to rush to repair the damage or risk cancerous change. Sunscreen will not lead to low Vitamin D; even with SPF 30 and above, enough rays will get through. The recommended daily dosage is 2000 IU per day. From Memorial Day to Labor Day in West Michigan, 10 minutes gives 10,000 units, more than the daily recommendation!

Fact #2:

Muscle mass is critical to maintaining and building good bones. As muscles grow, they pull on bones and keep bone-building cells busy to compensate for muscle growth. Astronauts lose 1-2% of bone mass per month in space, and a sedentary lifestyle can have the same effect. Summer is a great time for activities such as walking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and getting outside for extra Vitamin D. Use it or lose it!

Fact #3:

Risk factors for bone loss include: 

  • Aging and Menopause (most significant risk factor)
  • Low Vitamin D
  • Overreplacement of thyroid (low TSH)
  • Use of oral steroids
  • Low estrogen
  • Low body weight
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Being of Caucasian or Asian descent
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Patient Story:

Jane* was 50 and just entering menopause. During her appointment, we did a bone density scan to get a health baseline, and the scan revealed osteoporosis! She was very upset that she was at high risk for fracture because she liked leading an active lifestyle, including skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. 

Her risk factors included: 

  • Not taking Vitamin D supplements until age 40
  • Family history
  • Living in Northern climates where Vitamin D is only available naturally from the sun Memorial Day through Labor Day


Jane began doing Hormone Replacement Therapy to help her bones stay strong, and she was encouraged when I reminded her that she had fallen but not broken anything earlier in the year. She planned to continue her outdoor activities but avoid steep hills with tree roots and wear sunscreen outside. 

Health Tip of the Week:

Know your risk factors for bone loss, and ask your doctor if it is time for a bone density scan. If you have osteopenia or other conditions, ask what you can do to ensure your bones stay as healthy as possible. If you have bone loss, take Vitamin D and calcium supplements, stay active, and potentially consider medication. 

Watch the full segment.