Am I At Risk For Osteoporosis? 

 June 25, 2010

By  Dr. John Vilkelis


Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

1. Being female—especially thin, Caucasian or Asian

2. Having family history of osteoporosis

3. Being older

4. Being physically inactive

5. Taking corticosteroids, thyroid medications, anticonvulsants, anticoagulants, Dilantin, diuretics, antacids with aluminum, and drugs that alter digestion, such as Ranitidine

6. Smoking

7. Heavy consumption of alcohol

8. Heavy consumption of carbonated beverages, coffee

9. Low intake of calcium and vitamin D

10. Chronic diseases of the kidney, lung, stomach, and intestines

11. Hormonal changes because of menopause or hysterectomy

12. Lactose intolerance, low stomach acid

We associate osteoporosis with older people whose backs are bent—from those with a mild “dowager’s hump” to those who can no longer stand up straight. The truth is that 20 million American women have osteoporosis. And 80 percent of them don’t even know it!

Osteoporosis is a chronic, progressive condition that steals bone from the body, often leading to fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine. Many older people suffer disability and even death from osteoporosis-related fractures. While one in two women will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime, one in eight men will, too!

Many people confuse osteoporosis with arthritis, and wait for swollen joints and pain before going in for testing. Even though osteoporosis is painless (until you suffer a bone fracture), it is extremely important to find out how healthy your bones are—and to make lifestyle, dietary, and sometimes other changes.

What You Can Do To Prevent Or Slow Osteoporosis

Exercise! One of the best lifestyle changes you can make is in the area of exercise. Weight-bearing activity for 20 minutes three times a week is helpful. Try walking, jogging, playing racquet sports, lifting weights, or doing aerobics.  The National Osteoporosis Foundation says that although weight-bearing exercise is generally recommended, people with osteoporosis should consult their health care practitioners before beginning a new exercise program. The Foundation cautions against sudden or excessive strain on the bones during exercise. People with osteoporosis need to be careful when lifting heavy objects—including grandchildren. Take steps to avoid falling.

Diet! A healthful diet makes a big difference. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Enjoy nuts and seeds. Experiment with broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, and turnip greens. Try tofu, salmon, sardines, grains and low fat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt (a glass of low fat milk and a cup of yogurt adds 600 mg of calcium to the diet a day). Drink eight 10-ounce glasses of water a day (herb teas, juices, or other liquids are not a substitute for water). Avoid caffeine, carbonated colas, alcohol, baked goods, and junk food. Watch your animal protein intake.  Include more calcium in your diet. Most Americans get only about 600 mg of calcium a day, but a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences says adults 51 and older need 1,200 mg/day. 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 65+. If you’re in the market for a supplement, be sure you take 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. Taking more than double the recommended amount of calcium may put some people at risk for developing kidney stones. You may also want to supplement other nutrients, such as vitamin D, C, magnesium, zinc, and silica after talking with your doctor of chiropractic.

Don’t Smoke! Yes, it contributes to bone density loss so it’s just another reason to quit or not smoke at all.

What can your chiropractor do? While there are no known cures for osteoporosis, there are many things that your chiropractor can do to prevent or slow its progress.  Your chiropractor will advise you to discontinue unhealthy habits that contribute to osteoporosis such as excessive drinking and smoking.  While studies show that large quantities of alcohol can contribute to bone loss, light drinking such as drinking one glass of red wine per day can actually be a benefit.

Chiropractors can identify medications that you are taking that contribute to osteoporosis.  Chiropractors are not licensed to give advice on medications but we can advise you to get second and third opinions as to the benefits of the medications you are taking.

Your chiropractor can advise you on the amount and type of calcium you should take each day to help your body fight bone loss.  He or she will also teach you about other nutritional supplements and dietary changes that can help slow the disease, such as vitamin D and others.

Your chiropractor may also instruct you to begin a gradual increase in the level of exercise you are getting.  It is not recommended that you jump right in and start exercising hard right away.  If you already have osteoporosis any twisting or high impact exercises can cause a fracture and increase your problems drastically.  Always consult a health professional before starting any exercise program.

As always, please feel free to leave any comments and let me know what you think of this post.  Have a great weekend!

Dr. John Vilkelis

Dr. Vilkelis has been in private practice for over 27 years. He has a reputation for truly caring for his patients and goes the extra mile to make sure people get the help they need. He accepts patients of all ages and is eager to help you get well and stay healthy. Give him a call today at (914) 618-4330.

Dr. John G. Vilkelis

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  1. Fantastic site, I hadn’t come across vilkelischiropractic.com earlier during my searches!
    Continue the excellent work!

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