Osteoporosis Prevention & Treatment (cont.)


MedicineNet: How important is diet in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis?

Dr. Truong: Balanced nutrition, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, regular exercise, and cessation of cigarettes are important measures to maintain healthy bones for everybody. This is true for children, men, premenopausal and postmenopausal women, and the elderly, regardless of presence or absence of osteoporosis.

Conversely, malnutrition, such as found in patients with anorexia nervosa, contributes to osteoporosis.

MedicineNet: Why is adequate calcium intake important in osteoporosis prevention and treatment?

Dr. Truong: Calcium is an essential nutrient necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, nerves, and other body functions, as well as maintaining strong bones. Adequate calcium intake is important for everyone, regardless whether she/he already has osteoporosis.

Each day, the body loses calcium in the urine, feces, and sweat. These losses have to be replaced by calcium in the diet. If calcium in the diet is not sufficient to cover these losses, the body takes calcium from the bones. Over time, insufficient calcium in the diet leads to negative calcium balance and bone loss (osteoporosis). Adequate calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis and increase bone mass and strength.

MedicineNet:  How much calcium intake is necessary to prevent and treat osteoporosis?

Dr. Truong: The levels of calcium intake recommended by The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis are:

  1. 800 mg/day for children ages 1-10
  2. 1000 mg/day for men, premenopausal women, and postmenopausal women also taking estrogen
  3. 1200 mg/day for teenagers and young adults ages 11- 24
  4. 1500 mg/day for post menopausal women not taking estrogen
  5. 1200mg-1500 mg/day for pregnant and nursing mothers

These recommended levels of calcium intake are meant for all people, not just for those with established osteoporosis. Unfortunately, I am afraid that Americans overall are not taking in enough calcium. Surveys have shown that the average woman in the United States receives less than 500 milligrams of calcium per day in her diet.