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Osteoporosis - Make No Bones About It

by Nelly Atallah, Pharm. D.
October 1, 2009

brought to you by Bellevue Pharmacy, a ProjectAWARE sponsor

Osteoporosis (osteo = bone + porosis = porous) is a common bone disease that affects 44 million people in the United States. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and break easily. It can affect people at any age, but is most commonly seen in the aging population. One out of every two women and one out of every four men over the age of fifty will have an osteoporosis–related fracture in their lifetime.

Bones provide structural support for movement and organ protection and storage of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and carbonate. When the body is not supplied with adequate amounts of these nutrients, the minerals are mobilized out of the bones. Throughout a lifetime, old bone is removed and new bone is added to the skeleton. In younger individuals the rate of new bone formation is higher than the rate of bone removal. As people age the rate of bone loss is greater than new bone formation which leads to a decrease in bone mass and ultimately osteoporosis.

There are several factors which can increase the risk for developing of osteoporosis. Such risk factors include people older than 50, female gender, small-framed individuals, family history of the disease, Caucasian and Asian ethnicities, estrogen and/or testosterone deficiency, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D. Most of these risk factors are inherited and cannot be changed, however there are a few of the factors that can be controlled with simple lifestyle changes.

Studies show that people who exercise regularly can lower their risk for osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to be effective in maintaining bone mass. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, hiking, stair climbing, weight training, tennis, and dancing. Other lifestyle modifications that can be made to reduce the risk of osteoporosis include quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake.

An inadequate supply of calcium over a lifetime can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Studies show that low calcium intake is associated with low bone mass, rapid bone loss, and high fracture rates. Different age groups require different amounts of dietary calcium intake.

Recommended Daily Intake *

Male & Female Age


0-6 months


7-12 months


1-3 years


4-8 years


9-18 years


19-50 years


51+ years


*Developed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences

Most Americans are not meeting the recommended daily allowance of calcium. The Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid recommends that everyone 2 years of age and older eat 2-3 servings of dairy per day. Foods rich in calcium include:

• An 8 ounce glass of milk
• 1.5 ounces of natural cheese
• 2 ounces of processed cheese
• 8 ounces of yogurt
• 2.25 cups of cooked broccoli
• 1.5 cups of cooked kale

Supplementing with the right amount of calcium a day is not sufficient to prevent osteoporosis if the body is unable to use it. Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium from the gut. Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining a balance between calcium and phosphorus which supports bone formation. Vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin in response to sunlight. Since most people do not get enough sunlight exposure, it is necessary to take a supplement that contains vitamin D3.

At this time, John Jacob Cannell, MD, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, advises even healthy people (those without the diseases of vitamin D deficiency) to seek a knowledgeable physician and have your 25(OH)D level measured. If your levels are below 50 ng/mL you need enough sun, artificial light, oral vitamin D3 supplements, or some combination of the three, to maintain your 25(OH)D levels between 50–80 ng/mL year-round.

If you can't find a knowledgeable physician, purchase the 1000 IU/day vitamin D3 cholecalciferol pills that are available over-the-counter in North America or a 5,000 IU capsule from BIO-TECH. Take an average of 5,000 IU) a day, year-round, if you have some sun exposure. If you have little, or no, sun exposure you will need to take at least 5,000 IU per day. How much more depends on your latitude of residence, skin pigmentation, and body weight.

Adult women should begin concentrating on bone health once their hormone levels begin to drop. Since hormone deficiency is a risk factor, it is important to take measures to prevent bone loss before it leads to fractures. Hormone replacement after menopause has been shown to increase bone mass and prevent excessive bone loss.

Women or men concerned that they are at risk for developing osteoporosis can take a multi-vitamin, called Gynofem™, specially formulated to support bone health. Clinical studies have shown that GynoFem™ has a significant impact on preventing and reversing post menopausal bone loss and the effect on increasing bone density is not temporary but long term and lasting.

Another supplement marketed for osteoporosis prevention is BONEhealth™. A daily dose of BONEhealth™ contains 1250 mg of eggshell calcium, 450 mg of magnesium, and 600 IU of vitamin D. To order either of these products please visit the online store at www.bellevuerx.com.

There is no one way to prevent osteoporosis. The key to good health is to begin prevention measures early. Weight-bearing exercise, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can lower the risk of developing osteoporosis for those already at risk. It may also be necessary to add a multi-vitamin or calcium supplement if your dietary intake is not adequate. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the proper screening measures if you think you are at risk for osteoporosis.


1. www.nlm.nih.gov
2. www.nof.org
3. www.vivo.colostate.edu
4. www.webmd.com
5. http://ods.ods.nih.gov


For questions and further information, contact Bellevue Pharmacy.


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