Ask the Expert: Osteoporosis Symptoms & Prevention
May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, so we asked orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Lane to answer questions on osteoporosis, a metabolic bone disorder in which bone tissue breaks down, leading to an increased risk of fracture.
Q1: What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a quiet disease. An individual might have osteoporosis if he or she suffers fractures after low-impact injury, a decrease in height of more than two inches, or a newly present curvature of the spine.
Q2: How much calcium and vitamin D is recommended in order to prevent osteoporosis?
Calcium intake should be around 1200 milligrams per day. Consider taking a calcium supplement if you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet. Calcium citrate (as opposed to calcium carbonate) is preferred as it is more easily digested and absorbed.
For those deficient in Vitamin D, a daily intake of 1,000-2,000 IU (international units) is necessary to reach a normal range minimum of 30 nanograms per milliliter, detected through a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. When in normal range, 600 IU/day of Vitamin D is recommended. Consult with your treating physician before starting a new supplement regimen.
Q3: If I cannot get calcium from dairy foods and I do not want to take a supplement, how can I meet the requirements?
Non-dairy foods such as salmon, tofu, beans, kale and almonds are good sources of calcium. Some soy products such as soy milk are fortified with extra calcium.
Q4: Can exercise help keep my bones strong and prevent osteoporosis?
Exercise can help you retain bone mass and decrease your risk of fracture. Thirty minutes of a weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, five times a week and strengthening exercises using resistance three times a week are recommended.
Q5: How do menopause and hormones affect osteoporosis?
In menopause, estrogen production decreases, which leads to bone loss and fragility. Taking an estrogen supplement can help prevent bone loss.
Dr. Joseph Lane is an orthopedic surgeon and chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service. He specializes in malignant and benign bone tumors; metabolic bone disease; and fractures, non-unions and delayed healing.