Can Eating Disorders Cause Osteoporosis?

Can Eating Disorders Cause Osteoporosis?

Illustration of doctors inspecting an x-ray of bones.

Growing up, one of the most repetitive phrases we hear revolves around the importance of having strong bones. Most kids grow up hearing that drinking milk will lead to the strongest and sturdiest foundation of bones as they grow older. But there are more prominent reasons that such a heavy emphasis is placed on habits that encourage strong bones at a young age. Let’s explore osteoporosis and how eating disorders can impact your bones.

Osteoporosis — What Is it?

Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to thinner and brittle bones, eventually making it harder to heal from conditions or perform basic daily activities. Believe it or not, your bones constantly tear down and remake themselves into new tissue. But as you enter your late 20s, this process slows down. Without proper nutrients, your body will slow down this process even further, leading to brittle bones that bring about various painful symptoms throughout your body. Studies show that annual bone loss can be as much as 3% for patients suffering from anorexia and related eating disorders. [1]

How the Right Nutrition Helps Your Bones

Nutrition is vital to ensure your bones are as strong as ever. This is especially true for adolescents, as getting nutrients as soon as possible help build a strong foundation for bones in the long run. From the ages of 9-15, most children will create 80% of their bone mass, so it’s imperative to get your essential nutrients during this time.[2] Additionally, bones need nutrients to supply themselves as it regenerates new bones constantly. Nutrients like magnesium, protein, vitamin D, and potassium are essential for growth and sustainability as you age.

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Osteoporosis

People with eating disorders — and especially women — are at a much higher risk for developing osteoporosis[3]. For example, young women with anorexia are increasingly likely to miss out on their peak bone density as the lack of nutrients thins their bones. Over time, you’ll be at a higher risk for other injuries and worsening conditions, including hip replacement and broken bones from falls, collapsing bones, repeat fractures and delayed healing, and a loss of height due to spinal collapse.

Several factors are at play regarding eating disorders, including genetics and other conditions you might not be aware of. If you’re someone with frequent broken bones or are otherwise worried that you or a loved one might be suffering from an eating disorder, turn to professionals to help diagnose and treat anorexia nervosa and other potential conditions.

How Can I Keep My Bones Healthy Throughout My Life?

A solid intake of nutrients keeps bones strong. Treatment for osteoporosis and eating disorders often involves a high intake of vitamins and minerals. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice to help you narrow down what to focus on. Also, discuss ways to incorporate physical activity into your days and additional lifestyle improvements to ensure your bones stay strong for years to come. Early detection and treating osteoporosis is the best way to lower its impact on your life, so be sure to speak to medical professionals if you or a loved one are showing signs of brittle bones.

With Shoreline, You Can Keep Osteoporosis and Other Eating Disorder Complications to a Minimum

Eating disorders — from anorexia to bulimia — can all leave a lasting impact on your life, and osteoporosis is just one of many possible complications that can arise from them. With various eating disorder levels of care available from professionals like Shoreline, you can regain control of your mind and body. Keep your bones strong and healthy by calling Shoreline today at 562-434-6007 or filling out our contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you or a loved one as soon as possible.




[1] https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-019-0269-8

[2] https://www.endocrineweb.com/osteoporosis-eating-disorders-connection

[3] https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/86/11/5227/2849361