Anorexia symptoms include bone fractures, low bone density and osteoporosis. The condition is typically identified during mid to late adolescence–which is a critical period for bone development. Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an irrational fear of weight gain and severe restriction of diet and nutrition. While the majority of people with anorexia are female, an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia are male.
Anorexia is typically identified during mid to late adolescence, which is a critical period for bone development. Up to one third of peak bone density is achieved during puberty. This is the time when we fill up our bone banks- from which we will make withdrawals later in life. The degree of bone loss seen with anorexia is unique in its severity and anorexia symptoms of bone loss can be detected after only 6 months of illness. Compression fractures and spinal deformity are not uncommon amongst very young patients.
A bone mineral density (BMD) test can detect bone loss before a fracture occurs and indicate the risk of future fractures. However, some studies indicate that changes in bone structure begin well before decreases in bone density reveal themselves through a DXA test. A flat-panel volume CT allows the bones to be examined at higher resolution (with relatively low radiation) for more accurate results.
DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS
While a healthy diet is the best way to maintain healthy bones, it is also the most compromised during anorexia. Calcium and vitamin supplements that include vitamin D, vitamin K and magnesium often prove to be an acceptable alternative because they provide nutrition without causing any weight gain. If a person is eating irregularly or purging during the day, taking a single serving of a comprehensive supplement such as Greens+ Bone Builder may provide an optimal solution until recovery is achieved. Taking the supplement before going to bed will take maximum advantage of the bone renewal that occurs overnight.
Anorexia is often accompanied by compulsive exercising aimed at burning calories and punishing oneself for eating something “bad”. Weight-bearing exercises are important for bone health but people with anorexia must also consider the risk of fractures. Low impact weight training can help to strengthen the bones if done in moderation rather than as punishment.
Low body weight can cause women to stop producing estrogen and men to stop producing the testosterone needed for healthy bone development. However, the effectiveness of estrogen replacement therapy in treating anorexia is still unclear. Some studies found that estrogen/progestin replacement and calcium supplementation did not prevent or reverse bone loss, while others found that it prevented bone loss but did not increase bone density. Research is on-going and the appropriateness of the treatment should be discussed with your doctor.