The Effect of Anorexia on Your Bones


Anorexia Nervosa is one of the deadliest mental illnesses one can deal with, and it holds the distinction of being the deadliest of all the psychiatric disorders. Those who cope with anorexia are four times more likely to die than someone diagnosed with major depression; anorexics that are first diagnosed in their 20s face even more difficulties, as they are 18 times more likely to die than healthy people their own age. Make no mistake, eating disorders end all too frequently in tragedy.

But what about those who don’t die quickly? Those who spend years living, quite literally, on the very brink of starvation? What happens to a body that spends its formative years in a life and death struggle just to get enough nourishment to survive? What kind of future does the body of a reformed anorexic have in store?

Science has long known the difficulties that anorexia nervosa can place on a human body. Because the onset of this eating disorder usually occurs in pre-pubescence, it can have a devastating effect on bones, particularly in the increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

The Link Between Anorexia and Osteoporosis

Low body weight in females frequently results in a decrease in estrogen, which causes a decrease in bone density due to hormonal and nutritional deficits. In addition, patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa frequently produce heavy amounts of cortisol, the adrenal hormone which is known to trigger bone loss. And of course, anorexics typically shun dairy products, which are important for strong and healthy bones. Girls who suffer from anorexia are less likely than other females their age to reach their peak bone density, which means they can be at increased risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis throughout their entire lives.

Anorexia Management Strategies

It’s crucial that symptoms of anorexia are noticed and addressed as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of lifelong consequences. Up to one-third of an adult’s peak bone density is achieved during puberty, the time when anorexia nervosa generally presents itself. The longer the disorder is left untreated, the greater the risk of bone loss and the reduction of mineral density.

Naturally, the best way to manage bone loss is with proper nutrition. A well-balanced diet that’s rich in vitamin D and calcium is crucial for healthy bones. Moderate exercise is also important, as is sufficient sleep. A healthy lifestyle, that doesn’t include cigarettes or alcohol, is also beneficial for bones.

If someone you care about is displaying symptoms of anorexia, please make the time to explain the end result of this diabolical disorder. Your chiropractor can explain the havoc that eating disorders can play on a healthy young body and explain where you can get treatment. Anorexia nervosa rarely goes away on its own. If a loved one is starting to display symptoms, you have a very small window of time before major damage is inflicted. Don’t let that opportunity pass.

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