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What is bone density?

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Bone density is the amount of mineral matter in a square centimeter of bone, according to the National Library of Medicine. It is a measure of the true mass of a bone, explains MedicineNet. Doctors test the bone density to asses the bone's strength and to estimate the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

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Doctors test for minerals in the spine, forearm or hip to determine a patient's bone density, reports Mayo Clinic. They then compare the patient's bone density to an established standard to determine the risk of osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Risk factors for low bone density include age, smoking, alcohol consumption and use of steroids, explains MedicineNet. Individuals who have a family history of osteoporosis or who have a thin and small stature or an inactive lifestyle are more likely to have low bone density.

To increase bone density, patients need to consume foods that are rich in calcium and minerals, according to WebMD. Patients should consume leafy green vegetables that are rich in potassium, vitamin K and calcium to strengthen their bones. Vitamin D from the sun or vitamin D supplements also help to strengthen bones. Whole-grain foods have magnesium, which maintains strong bones, while proteins have collagen, a building block for strong bones.

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