Osteopenia and Osteoporosis are diseases that refer to low bone density. Osteopenia is less severe and affects about half of Americans over 50, reports Harvard Medical School. Osteoporosis, literally means "porous bones", is a bone disease characterized by very weak and brittle bones. Even small stresses can cause fractures in an individual with osteoporosis. Family history and genetics contribute to the risk of developing diseases of low bone density, but diet and lifestyle also play a role. For example, caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of poor bone health.
Decrease in bone density
Caffeine decreases your body's ability to absorb calcium in a small amount. The high consumption of caffeine is linked to an increased risk of low bone density for life. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends keeping your caffeine intake at a moderate level. Three or more cups of coffee per day can affect bone density. Sodas contain caffeine with phosphoric acid or phosphate, an ingredient that also seems to contribute to bone loss.
Some people have an increased risk of bone density diseases, due to lifestyle or genetic factors. Caucasian and Asian women, particularly those of small size, are at greater risk. Low calcium intake is an important risk factor for low bone density. Alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium, and people who drink excessively have an increased risk of osteoporosis. The decrease in bone density can also occur as a side effect of corticosteroids and a number of other medications. If you have several of these risk factors, the doctor may order a bone density test.
Calcium in the diet is essential to maintain bone density. Try to take three or four servings a day of calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt. A study published in 1995 in the "New England Journal of Medicine" showed that consuming milk nullifies the effects of caffeine on calcium metabolism. Among postmenopausal women, coffee drinkers who reported drinking one or more glasses of milk a day for most of their lives did not experience a decrease in bone density.