Friday, March 7, 2014

No Bones About It: Osteoporosis is Serious

You may not think of your bones as being “alive,” but they really are constantly growing tissue. Bones are made up of collagen for flexibility, calcium-phosphate minerals for strength and cells that keep the bones healthy. Your bones are continually being broken down and rebuilt throughout your life. Unfortunately, as you grow older, the bone formation begins to slow down while bone loss continues.

This is osteoporosis, and it affects an estimated 200 million people worldwide. Like so many conditions, this is often called a “silent” disease because there are usually no outward symptoms. But as the bones become more brittle, they are more susceptible to breaks and fractures.

Healthy living at any age can decrease your risk for osteoporosis. Take proactive steps by:
• Consuming bone-healthy foods such as low-fat dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables
• Incorporating the proper amount of calcium and Vitamin D into your diet (see below)
• Stopping tobacco use
• Limiting alcohol consumption
• Exercising regularly through cardiovascular movements and weight training

Osteoporosis in Women
For women, menopause is often the start of significant bone loss. In fact, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the five-to-seven years after menopause, which typically begins at age 51. This is due in part to the fact that estrogen levels drop off in menopausal women. One in two women over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Calcium Recommendations for Women
Age 19-50: 1,000 mg/day
Age 51+: 1,200 mg/day

Vitamin D Recommendations for Women
Age 19-70: 600 IU/day
Age 70+: 800 IU/day

Osteoporosis in Men
Osteoporosis typically starts later in life for men (by the mid-60s) because they may have more bone mass. A common cause of osteoporosis in men is low testosterone, which is converted to estrogen to create stronger bones. Certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory steroids, prostate cancer drugs and anti-seizure drugs can also lead to bone loss. One in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Calcium Recommendations for Men
Age 19-70: 1,000 mg/day
Age 71+: 1,200 mg/day

Vitamin D Recommendations for Men
Age 19-70: 600 IU/day
Age 70+: 800 IU/day

Dr. Marilyn Kutzscher can perform bone density tests to determine if osteoporosis has set in. She also uses other tests to identify osteoporosis and help patients take steps to control the condition. If you are over age 50, contact Dr. Kutzscher in San Francisco to schedule an appointment. Call 415-923-3560 or visit

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