Osteoporosis is a bone disease manifesting in low bone mass and structural changes in the
bones that make the woman’s bone frame more fragile. Osteoporosis leads to an increase
in the risk of fractures involving the spine hip and wrist. According to the National
Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis of the hip.
Risk Factors for osteoporosis include:
Asian or Caucasian race
Low body weight
Low calcium intake
Inadequate physical activity
African American and Latin American women have an intermediate risk.
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to build bone mass through a healthy lifestyle,
calcium, and exercise. Your bone mass peaks in your mid-30’s, then your bone mass
declines every year about 0.5%. After menopause, the amount of bone mass lost increases
dramatically each year and continues for about five years.
The best way to screen for osteoporosis is a bone density scan. The goal is to screen for
loss in bone density and detect osteoporosis before the development of fractures, loss of
height or skeletal deformities. The bone density scan is easy to perform and has minimal
radiation exposure. If the bone density is 1 standard deviation below that of a young adult
it is described as osteopenia. If the bone density is 2.5 standard deviations below, it is
Proactive nutritional supplements and healthy diet can help provide for healthy bones.
Adolescents need 1,200-1,500 mg/day, and adults need 1,000 mg/day. Once women go
through menopause, their requirements for calcium go up. Women on hormone replacement
therapy need 1,200 mg/day, and women not on hormones need 1,500 mg/day. The best
sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
The treatment for osteoporosis includes calcium supplementation, exercise, and hormone
replacement if postmenopausal. Your physician may also prescribe medication such as
calcitonin and a group of drugs called bisphosphonates.