Young People Get Osteoporosis Too 

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The following is a quick overview of information that you need to know if you have just been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis:

Don't Panic!  In the beginning it is not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the disease but with time and patience we adapt to the changes that the disease makes in our lives.  There are steps that can be taken at any age to prevent and treat osteoporosis." A healthy diet, weight-bearing exercise, not smoking or drinking excessively, and bone mineral density testing and medications for osteoporosis can prevent or slow osteoporosis, and help bones to stay strong."

Osteopenia is not a disease, but a term that describes low bone density.  While osteopenia is not considered a disease, being diagnosed with it requires further monitoring. Preventive measures should be taken since osteoporosis may develop if bone density loss increases. Osteoporosis is a disease that breaks down the tissue in our bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.  Both osteopenia and osteoporosis can lead to fractures. Every day we learn more about both of these conditions and how to prevent them.

Five steps to improve your bone health.  It's important to follow all of the tips.  Eliminating any one of them can significantly affect your success.

1. Get adequate calcium and vitamin D

 If you are over 50 years of age and female, studies suggest you should have 1200 mg of calcium and 400 - 600 IU of vitamin D through diet and/or supplements.  Your body can best handle about 500 mg of calcium at any one time, whether from food or supplements.  Therefore, consume your calcium-rich foods and/or supplements in smaller doses throughout the day, preferably with a meal.

Dietary reference intake of calcium for women and men

If this is your age, then you need this much calcium each day (mg).
0 to 6 months 210
6 to 12 months 270
1 to 3 years 500
4 to 8 years 800
9 to 18 years 1,300
18 to 50 years 1,000
Over 50 years 1,200


    Vitamin D requirements for women and men

    Birth to 50 years:  200 IU a day


    51-70 years:  400 IU a day


    71 or older:  600 IU a day

2. Take your osteoporosis medication as directed when appropriate.

Medicine can be a key factor in protecting bone health in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.  Prescription medication is available that can build and maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fracture.  But no medicine can work if you don't take it.  You and your physician need to review the drug treatment options, assessing the risks and benefits each offers and choosing the best treatment for you, based on current scientific evidence. You may also need to explore several treatment options, because each person is different. Some people respond better to one drug than another. Some people have side effects on one and not another.  Treatment decisions are highly individual. What's right for your best friend or someone else is not necessarily right for you. It's important to make medication decisions in consultation with a knowledgeable doctor who will consider not only your present condition but your entire medical history.


3. Exercise to build strength, flexibility, and balance.

Lack of exercise, especially as you get older, can contribute to lower bone mass or density.  Two types of exercise are important for women with osteoporosis:

1.) weight-bearing exercise, like walking, stair climbing and dancing, and

2.) resistance exercise, like use of free weights or weight machines.  These exercises can help maintain bone health and prevent further bone loss.

Exercise can also reduce your risk of falling by improving balance, flexibility and strength.  Talk to your doctor about a safe, effective exercise program to best meet your needs.


4. Visit your doctor regularly.

Work with your doctor to monitor your osteopenia/osteoporosis and bone mineral density, as well as your overall health.  It's important to evaluate the steps being taken to maintain the health of your bones and to decide what treatment is right for you.


5. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol

Smoking interferes with the way your body uses calcium to help bones.  Excessive alcohol can reduce bone mass and increase the risk of fracture.  Limit your alcohol intake to one drink or less a day for women.  This equals 12 ounces of regular beer, or 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80 proof liquor



Young People Get Osteoporosis Too Organization
Copyright 2001  All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/11/08.