Most physicians don’t recommend checking for bone mass until you reach your 50’s. However, habits in our modern lives such as smoking, eating disorders and lack of exercise can cause early deterioration of our bones. There are two main ways of testing for bone health:
DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry)
The more common test to check bone health is the bone density test or DEXA/ DXA scan, which uses an X-ray to measure how much minerals are packed into your bones. Though DXA is a very accurate instrument, it is very costly and most insurance plans don’t cover it for younger people. Another downfall to the DEXA is that it needs to be spaced 12 to 24 months apart. Thus, it cannot measure whether your lifestyle changes, diet modification and exercise incorporation are actually helping your bone mass. However, the DXA is the only test that can test for osteoporosis and osteopenia.
NTx (Cross-linked N-telopeptides of type I collagen)
NTx is a substance excreted through the kidneys into the urine during bone breakdown. Urine NTX levels are measured to assess the rate of bone breakdown. Your NTx test results will indicate your rate of bone breakdown relative to normal ranges. We are always breaking down some bone but if we are healthy, we are also building an equal amount of bone. Higher-than-normal bone breakdown can point to a risk for osteoporosis. If you identify with any of these risk factors, you should definitely take this inexpensive at-home test. If your results are in the normal range, re-take the test every year just to make sure you’re on track. If your bone breakdown is high, make the necessary changes and re-test every 60-90 days to monitor and reverse the high bone loss. Contact us to order this test.