Osteoporosis part 2
Last months Blog, we reviewed the definition of osteoporosis. To summarize, osteoporosis is the overall loss of calcium in the bones over time. Loss of calcium in women begins at about age 23 to 25 and for men, about age 35. Unfortunately, women lose more calcium after menopause. This lasts for about 10 to 15 years. At about age 65 both men and women lose calcium at about the same rate but men have a larger stockpile in their bodies, thus, they are less prone to bone breakage from osteoporosis.To maintain calcium throughout one’s life we need to increase the speed at which it is deposited and slow down the rate at which it is lost.
Calcium is available in many forms. Some of these forms are more likely to be absorbed into the body than others. One of the simplest is called elemental calcium. This is available in Tums! I recommend between two and three times tablets each day, especially for women. These tablets should be taken all at once as they each provide 500 mg of elemental calcium. One of the interesting things about calcium is that it acts like a giant sponge looking to absorb the other nutrients in the stomach. That’s how it works as an antacid. Unfortunately, this also means you cannot take other medicines with calcium. This includes vitamin D!! This is very important since many over the counter formulations of calcium are sold with vitamin D. Vitamin D is critically important for the absorption of calcium but must be taken at a different time during the day. In fact, calcium should be taken ALONE, at least two hours before or one hour after any other food or medication.
While we are talking about it, Vitamin D is a requirement to absorb calcium. Since Rochester is NOT in the Sun Belt, we need to rely upon supplemental D. For men, 400 IU (international units) daily up to 800 IU for women. Most multivitamins have D, but be careful: DON’T get vitamins or supplements with calcium for the reasons above.
Weight-bearing exercise stimulates calcium deposition and promotes bone health. This is the only process where swimming is not as good as walking, jogging or aerobics. You can’t build bone in the water. Avoiding smoking along with eating a healthy diet also helps with bone calcium deposition. There are some diseases that affect calcium in bone but those exceed the scope of this article.
What if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis? Medicines like Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel and even Forteo work this way through different mechanisms. In common, they slow loss. Unique in treatments, Calcitonin, available as a nasal spray or injection, is a synthetic hormone that STIMULATES calcium deposition and is generally very well tolerated.
Testing for osteoporosis is an easy, noninvasive process that any primary care, family practice, OB/GYN or orthopedic surgeon can help facilitate. Another high-risk group for osteoporosis is female athletes in their teens or early 20s who have late-onset menses or have lost their period. During these critical bone forming years loss of normal hormone balance seriously impairs calcium deposition.
I hope with this and the previous article you have a better understanding of what osteoporosis is, how it can be protected against and who to contact to investigate or treat if you suffer from it. They are the only bones you have, treat them well!
Dr. John Klibanoff RochesterOrtho.com
Orthopedic Surgeon 2410 Ridgeway Ave 14626 585-723-3000