|Osteoporosis—Maximizing the Health of Your
Symptom and Description
Before menopause, the body naturally replaces old bone with new
bone. With the change of life the body begins to lose estrogen,
and there is a rapid loss of bone mass. The bone becomes more
thin and frail. A woman’s risk for bone fracture in the hips,
spine, and wrist increases each year after the change.
As a woman ages, the body is also less able to
absorb calcium. At the same time there is a loss of calcium from
the bones. This further weakens the bones. Low calcium can cause
osteoporosis. Steroid therapy can also cause osteoporosis
because steroids increase bone loss, reduce calcium absorption,
and make bones more frail and likely to break. Thyroid hormone
therapy is also associated with increased risk.
All causes of estrogen loss—change of life,
removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, or radiation
therapy-result in loss of bone, usually in the first 2 years
after loss of estrogen. Even though hormone replacement is the
only way to restore bone strength, there are some things you can
do to help maintain or even partially restore healthy bone.
Learning Needs To
maintain or restore bone strength, you need to know whether you
are at significant risk for bone loss and fracture.
1. White and Asian
women with small frames who are at or below their ideal weight
are at risk for bone loss. Black women have less risk because
their bones are more dense.
2. Bone mineral
density studies are painless and can predict risk for fracture
and may be advised if you are approaching the change or having
symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a baseline bone test with a
repeat of the test in 2 years to determine your rate of bone
3. Women who have
eating disorders or who eat foods low in calcium, drink
high-caffeine beverages, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes are
at high risk for bone loss and bone fracture with aging.
4. Lack of physical
exercise can lead to bone loss and calcium loss.
5. Women who for
personal or health reasons are unable to take hormone
replacement therapy are at high risk, depending on their other
1. If hormone
therapy is prescribed, it must be continued as ordered by your
doctor. When hormone therapy is stopped, bone loss resumes. Do
not stop your hormone therapy before consulting with your
because of its estrogen-like action helps to prevent the bone
loss that occurs with menopause. It also helps prevent breast
3. Raloxifene is
proven to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It may
also prevent breast cancer.
4. Zometa is given
to prevent bone loss, promote bone healing, and perhaps prevent
5. Most women take
in only 400–500 mg of calcium daily. Premenopausal women
should supplement their diet with 500-1000 mg of calcium a day.
Postmenopausal women should add 1500 mg of calcium a day because
of reduced calcium absorption. Two Tums 500 supplies 2500 mg
calcium carbonate, which provides 1000 mg of calcium. Three
tablets provide 3750 mg calcium carbonate, which provides 1500
mg of calcium.
sodium (Fosamax) may be taken in combination with calcium
citrate (Citracal) if osteoporosis is present. Calcium
supplements should be taken with food. Orange juice or other
acidic foods are especially helpful in aiding absorption.
7. For most people,
the average diet and some sunlight exposure provide adequate
vitamin D, which is necessary to absorb calcium. Multivitamins
with vitamin D, 400 IU daily, may be taken if necessary.
8. Most generic
oyster-shell calcium is absorbed. If your calcium tablet does
not dissolve in household vinegar after 30 minutes with gentle
stirring, select one that does.
9. If you have a
history of renal stones, consult your doctor before taking added
10. Try to eat
calcium-rich, low-fat foods, yogurt, cottage cheese, skim milk
(with vitamin D), and juices and cereals with added calcium.
Minimize caffeine intake. Avoid cola drinks and chocolate as
well as red meats, which contain high levels of phosphorus,
which affects calcium absorption.
11. Exercise may
help to increase bone strength. Stair climbing, racket sports,
impact aerobics, jogging, weight training, and dancing are
advised. Swimming, walking, and cycling help your heart but do
not increase bone strength.
12. If you have weak
bones or have had a bone fracture consult your doctor regarding
an exercise program.
13. Thirty to 60
minutes of exercise 3 to 4 times a week helps to strengthen
14. Exercise may
also help to improve coordination, balance, and muscular
strength, which help to decrease the likelihood of falls.
15. If you smoke
cigarettes or drink alcohol daily, ask your nurse or doctor
about ways you can learn to stop smoking or to drink alcohol in
your doctor if you experience any unpleasant side effects from
your medications such as stomach upset or diarrhea.