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What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue causing bones to become weak, porous and more prone to fractures. Bone is living growing tissue that changes throughout life. These changes happen through bone remodeling, which is an important process that removes older bones (resorption) and replaces it with newer bones (formation) to maintain a healthy skeleton.

In the early years of life, new bone forms faster than resorption occurs until peak bone mass is reached. Usually, after the age of 30, bone resorption starts to exceed bone formation. As bone is lost, the skeletal structure weakens, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Thus, osteoporosis develops when bone resorption happens too quickly or bone replacement happens too slowly.

The possible consequences of osteoporosis include fractures, loss of height, stooped posture, back and hip pain, and breathing problems. While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person’s disease, it can strike at any age. Additionally, it affects considerably more women than men.

What is osteopenia?

Osteopenia refers to lower than normal bone density. Bone density loss in osteopenia is not as extreme as is seen in osteoporosis. Some experts believe osteopenia is a sign of osteoporosis. It is important to note that osteopenia does not always lead to osteoporosis, and should be monitored by a medical professional.

osteoporosis checklist

What is the relationship between celiac disease and osteoporosis?

  • The link between celiac disease and excess bone loss remains controversial. However, there are several potential reasons for the relationship between celiac disease and bone density including:
    • Body composition
    • Vitamin D deficiency
    • Calcium malabsorption
    • Magnesium malabsorption
    • Inflammation
  • Kalayci and colleagues found an approximate 10% improvement in bone mineral density (BMD) after children were put on a gluten-free diet.
  • Studies show different results regarding the prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia in patients with celiac disease – some estimate that it may be up to 75%.
  • Other research presents conflicting findings showing no higher incidence of celiac disease in osteoporotic patients, such as in Mather and colleagues' study.
  • Experts recommend that all patients with celiac disease be evaluated for calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. There is usually improvement in bone density and vitamin deficiencies with adherance to a strict gluten-free diet, but it is important to have a medical professional following to ensure complete resolution.

Where can I learn more?

Do you or a family member suffer from this disease? You may have celiac disease. Find out now; take our celiac disease symptoms checklist.


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