Q: My Mother has osteoporosis and I've heard it's hereditary. Is there anything I can do to prevent osteoporosis?
Dr. Donnica: Tips to prevent osteoporosis include getting adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet as early as possible; living an active lifestyle with frequent weight bearing exercise (e.g. walking); preventing falls and other accidents; and giving up smoking and heavy drinking. The recommended calcium intake for postmenopausal women is 1,500 mg/day. It is difficult for most women to get this amount of calcium from their diets alone. In fact, the average 44-year-old American woman consumes only 440 mg of calcium per day! As a result, most physicians recommend calcium supplements for the balance. These can be tablets that you swallow (e.g. Caltrate ®, Os-Cal®, or Citracal®), that you chew (e.g. Tums ®), or even the new products that are "disguised" as chocolate covered candies (for 20 calories each)! This is especially important for women with lactose intolerance, even though there are products such as Lactaid ® to help with the symptoms of this condition. Many women avoid dairy products in fear that they will increase their cholesterol levels or add too many unwanted calories. To address these concerns, look for skim or fat free products (which actually contain higher calcium levels than their fuller fat counterparts). Non-dairy foods that are high in calcium include tofu, broccoli, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
Medications are also available to prevent osteoporosis in women at high risk. These include estrogen replacement therapy and alenronate (see treatment section below) and raloxifene (Evista®), a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). Both estrogen replacement therapy and alendronate reduce fracture risk as well as osteoporosis risk. Raloxifene slows bone loss and may reduce fractures. It should not be confused with estrogen, as they have many different actions. It is considered a good choice of medication for women who cannot or will not take estrogen who are also at high risk for (or who have had) breast cancer; one of its other actions is that it may reduce breast cancer risk.
Created: 9/24/2000  - Donnica Moore, M.D.
Medications are also available to prevent osteoporosis in women at high risk.