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04/22/2009 - Articles

How To Avoid Osteoporosis

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD

A lot of the factors placing you at risk of developing osteoporosis are unavoidable - being a woman, being African-American or Hispanic, getting older, having a family history of fractures, being 'small-boned'.

How To Avoid Osteoporosis

Robert W. Griffith, MD
June 8, 2000 (Reviewed: December 9, 2002)

 

A lot of the factors placing you at risk of developing osteoporosis are unavoidable - being a woman, being African-American or Hispanic, getting older, having a family history of fractures, being "small-boned". There's not much you can do about these, but you CAN fight the increased risk by taking some practical steps:

1. Eat enough calcium-containing foods - dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains and fish (see " How to eat to avoid osteoporosis").

2. You should be getting at least 1,200 mg calcium a day. If necessary, make up the difference with a calcium supplement - not too much - read the label.

3. If you cannot get out much (i.e. you get less than 15 minutes of sunshine a day) take a vitamin D supplement, to get your intake to 400 to 800 International Units a day (not more).

4. If you smoke, stop! (for help, see " The Stop Smoking Center").

5. Exercise more - if nothing else, walk a lot. Better, develop a comprehensive weight-bearing and resistance-training program (see " Exercise Programs - A Primer").

6. Hormone Replacement Treatment (HRT) is no longer recommended for prevention of osteoporosis, as the risks out weigh the benefits (see " Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) - Now What to Do?"). There are other, safer medications, such as alendronate, raloxifene, and risedronate; check with your physician.

7. Have bone mineral density (BMD) measurements every 2 years. If they show that your bone density is low, talk with your family physician or a specialist about taking a medication to slow bone loss, such as raloxifene, alendronate, or nasal calcitonin.

8. Just in case, take steps to avoid falls in the home.

This list was prepared with the help of material from the US National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Created on: 12/09/2002
Reviewed on: 04/22/2009

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