Ask the Expert: Osteoporosis

What is so bad about osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease where our bones thin and are at risk of fracture. It is important to know about because once our bones have osteoporosis, we can have fractures that occur randomly or from light stresses such as coughing and sneezing.

Most often, we hear about osteoporosis fractures of the hip or spine from falls from standing. Our bones are under a constant build and break down process so we need regular doses of calcium and vitamin D in our system.

We should be screened for osteoporosis by the time we are 65 or sooner if we have other risk factors. The most common risk factors include the following: vitamin D deficiency, family history, age (post menopause), alcohol over use, tobacco use, and a sedentary life style.

Can I just add Calcium to my diet and be o.k.?

No, taking calcium is not enough to prevent osteoporosis. Our vitamin D levels need to be good so we can absorb our calcium. We need about 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D-3 daily which we can get from the sun or supplements.

Also, we all should get about 1200 mg of calcium each day ideally through foods/diet. Regular weight bearing exercise is very important to protect against osteoporosis as well.