Building strong bones, especially before the age of 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.
There are several steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis:
Estrogen and Alendronate
Both estrogen and alendronate are approved by the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of osteoporosis. Experts recommended estrogen
replacement therapy (ERT) for women
There are risks as well as benefits associated with estrogen
use, including increased risk of uterine and breast cancer. The risk of cancer of the uterus can
be offset by the addition of another
Alendronate, a medication from the class of drugs called bisphosphonates, is approved in a 5 mg dose for the prevention of osteoporosis. In clinical trials, alendronate slowed or stopped bone loss, increased bone density, And reduced fracture risk. Side effects are uncommon but may include irritation of the esophagus, abdominal or musculoskeletal pain, nausea, and heartburn. To derive the most benefit from alendronate, the following guidelines must be followed: take alendronate on an empty stomach with 8 oz. of water first thing in the morning, remain upright for at least 30 minutes after taking it, and have nothing to eat or drink during this time.
Making sure you get an adequate amount of calcium may
help in protecting you against osteoporosis. Recent studies indicate that many adults
get only half or less of their daily calcium requirement. An 8-ounce glass
of whole or skim milk, 1 1/2 ounces of cheddar cheese, 2 cups of cottage
cheese, and 1 cup of yogurt each contain an estimated 300 mg of calcium
-- nearly one-third of the
You need normal levels of vitamin D to absorb calcium. Your body manufactures this vitamin as a result of exposure to sunlight, and it is also available in vitamin-enriched milk products. Too much vitamin D is harmful, so don’t decide to take supplements without first consulting your doctor. However, you can safely take 400 units (the recommended daily allowance) in a multivitamin.
Exercise can also be helpful in building and maintaining strong bones. Exercise that forces you to work against gravity -- so called weight-bearing exercises such as walking or jogging -- are beneficial. Other weight-bearing exercises include racquet sports, hiking, aerobic dance, and stair climbing. The benefits of exercise last only as long as you maintain the program. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor will most likely include exercise as part of your overall treatment program.
If you have osteoporosis, you might be wondering if you should exercise at all. The answer, for most people, is yes. You should speak with your doctor or ask for a referral to a specialist in physical medicine to learn what type of exercises you can do safely not only to preserve bone, but also to strengthen your back and hips and maintain flexibility. Your doctor will be able to help you design an appropriate exercise regimen. Keep in mind, however, that exercise alone cannot prevent or cure osteoporosis.