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October 2022

Understanding Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones become brittle, increasing the risk of fractures.  It is sometimes called a “silent disease” as the bone loss that occurs is invisible and painless.  In fact, the first sign of osteoporosis is often when a bone breaks. A bone-healthy lifestyle, at any age, can slow the natural process of bone loss.

Factors that Affect Bone Health

  • Restrictive diets may impact nutrient intake.
  • Physical activity improves bone density.
  • Gender, size and age - thin older women are at higher risk for osteoporosis.
  • Race and family history - if you are white, of Asian descent or have a family history, risks are greater.
  • Hormone levels - too much thyroid, or low estrogen or testosterone can cause bone loss.
  • Certain medications used long term, such as prednisone, can be damaging to bone health.

Keys to Keep Bones Healthy
Lifestyle and diet are essential to keep bones strong. While bone loss is a natural part of aging, fractures and osteoporosis do not need to be.

  • Be physically active - walking can slow bone loss.
  • Include a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, reduced-fat dairy products and lean protein each day. Optimize protein intake– daily intake in grams should be approximately 1/2 of your body weight.
  • Beverages with Caffeine - limit coffee to 3c daily, avoid cola drinks.
  • Do not smoke and minimize alcohol intake.  Women should have no more than 1 drink and men no more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day.
  • Get a bone density test to see if you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Consult your MD before taking supplements, especially vitamin K.

Bone-Building Nutrients
Calcium can't do it alone! There are many nutrients that contribute to maintaining strong bones:

CALCIUM – Focus on food instead of pills. Women should have 1200 mg, men 60-70 yr. 1000 mg and 70(+) 1200 mg of calcium daily.  This includes the calcium from food we eat. Dairy products, along with salmon, sardines, spinach, greens and calcium fortified products are good sources.

Space calcium rich foods over the day to improve absorption.  Consider a supplement if you cannot reach the calcium goal from foods you eat, just to fill the gap.

VITAMIN D – essential to absorb calcium. The daily “D” goal is 800 IU.  Make the most of the few good food sources: salmon, sardines, tuna and D-fortified products.  Enjoy a little safe sun exposure.  Get your “D” level in your blood checked.

MAGNESIUM – Choose foods rich in magnesium: spinach, oatmeal, pinto beans, lentils, yogurt, halibut, whole grain bread, banana and nuts instead of a supplement.

VITAMIN B12 & Folate – Both support bone health. B12 is found in meat, fish, poultry and fortified products. You may need to supplement if you are taking antacids regularly. Get your B12-blood level checked.  Folate sources: leafy greens, broccoli and legumes.

VITAMIN K2 – Directs calcium to bones instead of depositing it in the arteries. K2-rich foods are cheese, and grass-fed meat.  Do not supplement if you are taking a blood thinner.


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