Let's Talk About Osteopenia

Half of all Americans 50+ will lose some of their bone density. It's vexing—but a wake-up call to better care for your bones.

    Our Pro PanelOsteopenia

    We tapped some of the best bone experts in the field to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Kendall Moseley, M.D.

    Kendall Moseley, M.D.Medical Director

    Johns Hopkins Metabolic Bone & Osteoporosis Center
    Baltimore, MD
    Lara Than, M.D.

    Lara Than, M.D.Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

    Cleveland Clinic
    Weston, FL
    Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.

    Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Services

    Yale School of Medicine
    New Haven, CT

    Frequently Asked QuestionsOsteopenia

    How do I know if I have low bone density?

    Most of the time, you won’t know until you have a bone density scan (think of it as an osteoporosis X-ray) to determine how strong or weak your bones are. The recommended age for a screening for osteoporosis is 65 for women and 70 for men. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, your doctor may want you to have a scan sooner. Of course, many people learn they have low bone density more suddenly, when they suffer a fracture from something slight, like stumbling off a curb.

    What is bone resorption?

    This is the process by which your body breaks down old, mature bone and releases calcium into your tissue and blood. It’s natural and necessary, but when bone resorption starts to outpace new bone formation, you’re at risk for developing low bone density and osteoporosis.

    Can I reverse osteopenia?

    A total reversal isn’t likely, but through lifestyle changes—a calcium-rich diet, supplements, weight-bearing exercises, and medications, if you need them—you can strengthen your bones to the point that they’re at less risk for fracture. This, experts say, is the goal of osteopenia and osteoporosis treatment.

    Does an osteopenia diagnosis mean I’ll eventually have osteoporosis?

    Not necessarily. You have a lower bone mass density than normal, which puts you at a higher risk for osteoporosis, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to get it. Many physicians say osteopenia is a wake-up call for their patients to pay more attention to their bone health: boost their calcium and vitamin D intake, start exercising, quit smoking, and drink less alcohol. This plan can stave off rapid bone loss and the bone fractures that often come with it.

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio


    Krista Bennett DeMaio is a health and beauty writer living in Huntington, NY with her husband and three daughters.