Posts Tagged ‘osteoporosis’

Osteoporosis: Not Just a Women’s Disease

Osteoporosis MenThought you were safe from osteoporosis because you’re a guy? Think again. Osteoporosis is not just a women’s disease. In fact, one in eight males will develop an osteoporosis-related fracture in his lifetime.

When you’re young, your bone is constantly changing—old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone is not generated quickly enough to replace old bone, leading to decreased bone mass and a weakened skeleton. This weakening, in turn, leads to an increased susceptibility to fractures. While more women than men develop osteoporosis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it still poses a significant threat to millions of men in the U.S.

Why do fewer men than women develop the disease? Men have larger skeletons—meaning more overall bone mass—and don’t undergo the same bone-loss-causing hormone changes that women deal with during menopause. Bone loss in men starts later and progresses more slowly. However, because men are living longer these days, osteoporosis has become an important public health issue.

While osteoporosis in women is generally age related, most men develop the disease for different reasons. Some of the risk factors that have been linked to osteoporosis in men include:

  • Smoking, excessive alcohol use, low calcium intake, and inadequate physical exercise
  • Chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines or alter hormone levels
  • Regular use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids
  • Low levels of testosterone

A “silent disease,” osteoporosis progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Those fractures most often are in the hip, spine, and wrist and can be permanently disabling. Hip fractures, in particular, are dangerous, as men who sustain hip fractures are more likely than women to die from complications.

In men, all too often osteoporosis isn’t diagnosed until a fracture occurs. If you have any of the lifestyle risk factors for developing the disease, or you experience a loss of height or change in posture, a fracture, or sudden back pain, tell your doctor. When detected before significant bone loss has occurred, osteoporosis can be treated with medication, improved nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. If you think you may be at risk for osteoporosis, make an appointment with your Emory physician for a medical workup and bone mineral density test.

Do you have osteoporosis, or do you know someone who does? How are you dealing with it? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

6 Ways to Stop or Reverse Bone Loss during Menopause

Prevent Bone Loss During MenopauseIf you’re a perimenopausal, menopausal, or even postmenopausal woman, this blog’s for you. You’ve probably heard that you’re likely to lose bone mass during menopause. The good news is you can take steps to help preserve and even build bone density before natures takes its toll.

Do these 6 things and you’ll enjoy stronger bones and better overall health:

  1. Eat Right. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and lean protein. Avoid sugars, preservatives, fatty meats, and refined grains. It’s also a good idea to take a nutritional supplement formulated for bone health. In particular, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, and vitamin K, which is essential to bone health.
  2. Strengthen Your Muscles. The best time to begin building your muscles is before you start losing bone mass. Exercise can help you regain bone as you build muscle. Even if you’ve already gone through menopause, you can still add bone mineral density with an exercise program. Non-stressful aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking, are great, and yoga and Pilates also help to build muscles and bone density gently.
  3. Control Chronic Inflammation. Injuries, food allergies, and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can all cause chronic inflammation, and inflammation in or around the gut can affect your ability to absorb bone-building nutrients. Sugar, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates tend to increase inflammation, while daily omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. Pay attention to how the foods you eat make you feel and control inflammation for better bone health.
  4. Get Your Hormones in Balance. Hormones fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause, and the jury is still out on how those hormones affect bone loss. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may or may not be right for you—that’s for you and your doctor to decide. But you can help keep your hormones in balance with a healthy diet, and you may also find that certain herbal therapies work for you.
  5. Be Mindful of How You Lose Weight. While maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to protect your overall health, be careful of how you go about losing if you’re overweight. Postmenopausal women who lose weight also tend to lose bone. This is where a healthy diet, supplements, and exercise come in again, to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs while you maintain and build muscle mass and bone density.
  6. Relax. Stress and worry only make bone loss worse. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, and cortisol can weaken the bones and cause other problems over time. Yoga, t’ai chi, and other mind-body practices can help reduce stress while building bone and strengthening muscles. And once again, a healthy diet and exercise are key to both your mental health and your bone health.

Are you perimenopausal, menopausal, or postmenopausal? What steps have you taken to maintain or improve your health? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

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Can Soda Consumption Affect Your Bone Health?

Cola bone healthOur team gets lots of questions about bone health, ranging from questions like “does  soda decrease my bone strength?”  To “how much calcium and Vitamin D are needed to maintain bone health?” In honor of National Nutrition Month, last week, we shared with you details on the roles of Calcium and Vitamin D in your bone health, and foods you can consume to make sure you get enough of each. This week, we want to share some interesting findings from new research being conducted around soda, and its effect on your bone strength.

There are many activities and behaviors that can serve to either improve or worsen bone health, but many recent studies have been conducted to determine if there is a link between soda consumption and decreased bone health. Check out some interesting take- aways from just a few of those studies below:

  • According to findings from a study at Harvard, 9th and 10th grade girls who consume sodas are at three times the risk for bone fractures compared to those who don’t.
  • Research out of Tufts University shows that “women–but not men–who drank more than three 12-ounce servings of cola per day had 2.3 percent to 5.1 percent lower bone-mineral density in the hip than women who consumed less than one serving of cola per day.”1
  • In a 2010 study from the Journal of American Dietetic Association, 170 girls were  followed from age 5 to 15. Of those, the participants who drank soda at age 5 were less likely to drink milk throughout childhood than those who didn’t consume soda at age 5. Those who drank soda from the age of 5 were also  more likely to consume diets lacking in calcium, fiber, vitamin D, protein, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
  • In a 2001 study out of Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center , researchers followed 32 people for a month and had them drink various  formulations of soda with differing levels of caffeine, phosphorus or citric acid so the research team could take urine samples and determine how much calcium the subjects were excreting. Those who drank caffeine-rich sodas excreted calcium; the others did not.

While all of the research conducted so far indicates that there is more to be done to directly tie cola consumption to decreased bone health, it is clearly a hot topic  for future medical investigation. We will follow up on our blog as more details emerge.


1http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-10-26/features/0310260520_1_acid-in-cola-drinks-bone-mineral-density-carbonated

Vitamin D & Calcium – A Healthy Bone Building Partnership (Part I)

Our team gets lots of questions about bone health, ranging from questions like “does soda decrease my bone strength?” To “how much calcium and Vitamin D are needed to maintain bone health?” In honor of National Nutrition Month, we want to share some interesting findings from new research being conducted around Vitamin D and Calcium and suggest few ways to get more of both in your diet, if you need them.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, a division of the National Institute of Health, “low Calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates.” And while Calcium is critical in building bone health and density, Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb this Calcium. According to findings from the CDC last year, about 1/3 of all Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. So if you’re looking for ways to boost your Calcium or Vitamin D intake, where should you start? Well, first, check out the latest recommendations on Calcium and Vitamin D intake from the Institute of Medicine:

Calcium & Vitamin D Recommendations

Then, after taking a look at your own diet as it compares to these recommendations, determine whether you need more or less of either Calcium or Vitamin D in your diet. If you need more of either, below we’ve listed some sources of both Calcium and Vitamin D.

Good Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sunlight
  • Supplements
  • Food
    • Cod Liver Oil
    • Fatty Fish (Swordfish, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel)
    • Fortified Orange Juice or Milk
    • Eggs (Vitamin D is in the yolk)
    • Fortified Dairy Products & Cereals

Good Sources of Calcium:

  • Dairy Products
  • Fortified Cereals and Soy Beverages
  • Tofu
  • Spinach, Soy Beans, Beet Greens & Collards
  • White Beans

As is always the case, you should consult with your physician before changing your intake of any vitamin or nutrient, so make sure to discuss your bone health concerns with he or she at your next visit to get advice specific to your needs. If you have additional tips and ideas on Calcium, Vitamin D, or bone health, please leave them for us in the comments below!