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Osteoporosis: Not Just An Elderly Disease

It used to be that osteoporosis was considered a disease that affected
only the elderly. We particularly associated osteoporosis with older women
whose backs were slightly hunched over or those who could no longer stand
up straight. Today, the truth is that an estimated 20 million American
women suffer from osteoporosis, and 80 percent of them don’t even know
it.

Osteoporosis is a chronic, progressive condition that steals bone from
the body, leading to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist. Older people
can suffer disability and even death from osteoporosis-related fractures.
Alarmingly, one in two women and one in eight men will suffer from an osteoporosis-related
fracture in his or her lifetime.

Many people confuse osteoporosis with arthritis, and wait for swollen
joints and discomfort before being tested. Even though osteoporosis is
painless until a bone fracture occurs, it is important to find out how
healthy your bones are now and if need be, adjust your lifestyle to avoid
this brittle bone disease. The American Chiropractic Association recommends
the following tips to maintain healthy bones:

  • Start a regular exercise program. Walking, skipping rope, jogging, playing
    racquet sports, swimming and aerobics are all helpful in reducing the
    risk of osteoporosis. Exercising for 20 minutes, three times a week,
    is helpful.
  • Although weight lifting exercises are generally recommended, the National
    Osteoporosis Foundation says those suffering from osteoporosis should
    consult their health care practitioner before beginning a weight lifting
    program because excessive strain on the bones could result.
  • Those with severe osteoporosis and who have suffered from fractures may
    find Tai Chi, a form of martial arts, to be a beneficial strength training
    exercise system.
  • People suffering from osteoporosis should be careful when bending and
    lifting heavy objects, including grandchildren. Bend from the knees,
    not the waist, when lifting, and try to avoid hunching while sitting
    or standing.
  • Be sure to include calcium in your daily diet. The National Institutes
    of Health’s recommendations are 1,000 mg/day for post-menopausal women
    taking estrogen; 1,500 mg/day for postmenopausal women not taking estrogen,
    and 1,500 mg/day for men and women over 65 years of age.
  • If you are looking for a calcium supplement, try one that’s highly absorbable,
    such as microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate (MCHC), or one of
    the malates, fumarates, succinates, glutarates, or citrates. But don’t
    overdo it. Taking more than the recommended amount of calcium may cause
    kidney stones.
  • Consider taking additional nutritional supplements, such as vitamin D,
    C, magnesium, zinc and silica after consulting with your doctor of chiropractic.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts
    and seeds. Try broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage and turnip greens.
    Experiment with tofu, salmon, sardines and grains. Low-fat milk and/or
    yogurt are good sources of calcium. (A glass of low-fat milk and a cup
    of yogurt add 600 mg of calcium to your daily diet.)
  • Drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day (herb teas, juices and coffee
    are not a substitute for water.) Avoid caffeine, carbonated sodas, alcohol,
    baked goods and junk food.
  • Watch your animal protein intake.