Osteoporosis Awareness Month

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Hello again everyone! It’s Beth, one of your Pharmacy Chicks. May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become weak and brittle. Bones are living tissue, constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis happens when the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the loss of old bone tissue. When the bones are brittle, a fall or other stresses such as coughing or bending over can cause a fracture. These fractures most commonly happen in the wrist, hip, or spine. In 2012, Medicare (CMS) indicated that 1 out of every 2 women and 1 in 4 men aged 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. They also reported that 24% of hip fracture patients aged 50 and older die in the year following their fracture.

Osteoporosis can affect men and women of all races. However postmenopausal white and Asian women are at highest risk. Other risk factors include family history, small body frame, overactive thyroid, lowered sex hormone levels, low calcium intake, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. There are steps that can be taken to develop and maintain strong bones.

Follow a diet to build healthy bones.

Your body needs protein, minerals, and vitamins to make and regenerate bones. Calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, and Vitamin K are important for bone health.

Calcium – Calcium is a major component of bone. A diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. Women between the ages of 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily and those over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg. Men between the ages of 19-70 need 1,000 mg of calcium and those over the age of 70 need 1,200 mg. Calcium can be found in dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines, and soy products such as tofu. An 8-ounce glass of milk provides 300 mg of calcium. Since today’s typical diet provides less calcium than needed, calcium supplements may make up the difference. Vitamin D should be taken with calcium to prevent fractures.

Vitamin D – Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. A lack of vitamin D weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fortified milk, and fatty fish, such as tuna and sardines. Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D. Most of us don’t get enough sun exposure, therefore a dietary supplement may be recommended if vitamin D levels are low.

Magnesium – Magnesium is a mineral that contributes to bone mineral density. It helps to keep calcium in the bones. Food sources of magnesium include green vegetables, almonds, black beans, kidney beans, and whole-wheat bread. Magnesium supplements may be needed if bloodwork shows that magnesium levels are low.

Vitamin K – Vitamin K is needed for bone metabolism and to help prevent excess bone loss. It is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, as well as peas and green beans. Vitamin K also plays a role in blood clotting therefore some people may need to limit their intake of foods rich in vitamin K.

Move your body

Physical activity is a key factor in preventing osteoporosis. Regular exercise early in life helps young people have a higher peak bone mass. For adults, regular exercise can help slow bone loss, maintain posture, and strengthen cardiovascular health. Exercise can also improve balance, coordination, and muscle strength. This can reduce the risk of falls and breaking bones. Any weight-bearing exercise, such as walking and climbing stairs, can help slow bone loss, improve muscle tone, and reduce the risk of falls. Other types of exercise include resistance exercises and Tai chi.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use

Smoking can increase the rate of bone loss. Women who smoke have lower estrogen levels than women who don’t smoke. Women who smoke often reach menopause earlier than nonsmokers, and smokers tend to be thinner. All of these are risk factors for osteoporosis.

More than a moderate amount of alcohol can reduce the ability of the body to absorb calcium. It can also affect the hormones that regulate calcium levels and reduce formation of new bone. If you decide to drink alcohol, drink only a moderate amount. For adult women of all ages and men over age 65, a moderate amount is only one alcoholic drink a day. For adult men aged 65 and younger, a moderate amount is up to two drinks a day.

Medications

For people at elevated risk of developing osteoporosis, medications may be prescribed. Most of these medications act to slow or stop the breakdown of bone tissue (resorption). These anti-resorptive agents help bone formation to keep pace or exceed bone loss. This can allow an increase in bone density over time. Some of these drugs are bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), and risedronate (Actonel). Other drugs are denosumab (Prolia), raloxifene (Evista), and calcitonin-salmon (Miacalcin).

Bone health is important throughout our entire lives. However, as we age, reducing our risk of fractures and bone loss is critical. Always remember that your pharmacist is a resource, along with your healthcare provider, for helping you understand the importance of your medications and your health conditions. You can always stop by and see me at Sparta Drug Center or Jennifer at Payless Family Pharmacy with questions. Pharmacy Chicks out!

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