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What Is The Cause Of Osteopenia And What Can You Do?

The cause of osteopenia can be family history (genetics), lifestyle, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, medication... or a combination of any of these factors.

Not everyone with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis. Further bone loss can be halted through a variety of natural remedies.

Osteopenia is a condition of lower than normal bone mineral density (BMD) that may be a precursor of osteoporosis. The condition is identified through a bone density test (DXA or DEXA) resulting in a bone mineral density T-score. The accepted guideline for T-scores is:

  • Osteopenia: between -1 and -2.5
  • Osteoporosis: lower than -2.5

Small-boned, lightweight people are at particular risk of developing osteopenia and studies suggest that women weighing less than 130 pounds and men weighing less than 150 pounds are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis.

Weight and bone-size are not the only risk factors, however. All of the following elements can causes of osteopenia:


  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Being thin or small boned
  • Being female
  • Being Caucasian or Asian


  • Smoking
  • Drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day
  • Stress


  • Low intake of milk and dairy products
  • Diet lacking good sources of calcium
  • Excessive meat consumption
  • Low stomach acidity, which may inhibit calcium absorption
  • Drinking more than 3 cups of caffeinated beverages daily (coffee, tea, soda)


  • Lack of weight-bearing exercise (walking, tai-chi, dancing, weight lifting) for at least 30 minutes daily
  • Physical inactivity for prolonged periods of time


  • Removal of ovaries
  • Early menopause (before age 45)
  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods for at least six months)
  • Low stomach acid (common after age 50)
  • Excess parathyroid hormones


Some medications inhibit calcium absorption and can be a cause of osteopenia.

It is natural to lose bone density as we age. Women lose approximately 50 percent of their trabecular bone (spongy tissue that fills the inner cavity of long bones) and 30 percent of their cortical bone (hard tissue that forms the surface of bones) over the course of their lifetime.

Bone loss can begin around age 35 but accelerates after menopause. The first five to seven years after menopause is a common cause of osteopenia, as the loss of estrogen and progesterone accelerates bone loss.

Rapid bone loss affects men about ten years later than it affects women... unless they have a high-risk lifestyle or use medications that inhibit calcium absorption.

Fortunately, research shows that proper diet, supplements, exercise and sometimes medication can halt and even reverse osteopenia.

Puritan’s Pride Bone Care provides recommended levels of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K for approximately $30 a year.

For information on natural remedies designed to address the cause of osteopenia... visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.