10 Surprising Facts About Bone Health
You have cottage cheese for lunch and regularly swim after
dinner, so you think you’re getting the calcium and exercise
you need to ward off osteoporosis.
Sorry, think again.
“Many people are surprisingly misinformed or uninformed
about how to build healthy bones,” said David Hamerman, MD,
director of the new Center for Bone Health at Montefiore
Medical Center (MMC). “Women know they need calcium and that
they rapidly lose bone mass after menopause, but not much
more,” he said.
As a result, one in two women and one in eight men over 50
will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their
lifetimes, according to the National Osteoporosis
Foundation. Few people suspect they have this “silent
disease” until their bones are so thin and weak they break
easily, especially in the hip, spine, and wrist. In many
cases, adopting healthy bone habits earlier in life could
have prevented osteoporosis.
“Osteoporosis is the consequence of a lifetime of poor
nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle practices,” Dr. Hamerman
said. “It’s not just an older person’s disease.”
If you understand your risk of developing osteoporosis, you
can grow old with your bones intact. These ten little-known
facts about bone health nutrition tips, lifestyle risks, and
warning signs can help.
Ten Facts About
1. Your body stores almost all of its calcium in the
bones, which act as a calcium “bank.”
calcium daily, and the body withdraws daily what it needs.
Anything that isn’t used is stored for future use. The
amount of daily calcium you need varies at different stages
of life (see table below), but remember the body won’t
absorb more than 500 mg. at a time. Wait four to six hours
between doses or dairy servings.
Daily Calcium Requirements For Every Stage of Life
Stage of Life Daily Calcium Requirements
1-3 years 500 mg.
4-8 years 800 mg.
9-18 years 1,300 mg.
Pregnancy & lactation 1,000 – 1,200 mg.
Adult women 1,000 mg.
Post-menopause on hormones 1,200 mg.
Post-menopause without hormones 1,500 mg.
2. Surprise! Cottage cheese is a poor source of calcium.
A one-cup serving of 1 percent fat cottage cheese has
only 138 mg. of calcium, but a cup of non-fat yogurt has a
whopping 450 mg. of calcium! The calcium content in hard
cheeses varies, too. An ounce of processed American cheese
has 130 mg of calcium while an ounce of hard Parmigiano has
335 mg. – almost three times as much. A good hard cheese to
eat is Swiss cheese, with 270 mg. of calcium per ounce.
3. Low-fat dairy products are much higher in calcium than
Even low-fat yogurt has less
calcium than non-fat yogurt – 415 mg. vs. 450 mg. per cup –
while whole milk yogurt has just 274 mg. A half-cup serving
of part-skim ricotta has 337 mg. of calcium vs. 257 mg. in
whole ricotta. That’s because non-fat products often are
fortified with dry milk solids. Check labels to see what
4. Certain foods and beverages interfere with calcium
The list includes heavily salted foods such
as bacon, salami, smoked salmon, prepared soups, salty
snacks and other processed food. It is recommended that you
consume less than 4,000 mg. of sodium a day. Cola has
phosphoric acid that blocks calcium absorption, while
caffeine can actually deplete calcium. Alcohol in excess is
not good, either, because it damages bones.
5. Some sun is good for you and your bones, so don’t
always sit in the shade.
A minimum of 400 IU of Vitamin
D is essential each day for the body to absorb calcium.
About 15 minutes of daily sunlight without sunscreen will
produce all the Vitamin D you need. Because the sun doesn’t
shine everyday, make sure your calcium supplement contains
enough Vitamin D.
6. Osteoporosis begins in the teen years.
achieve 42 percent of their total body bone mass between the
ages of 12 and 18, yet 90 percent of girls do not get enough
calcium. Beginning at age nine, children (both boys and
girls) should include 1,300 mg. of calcium in their diet.
7. Contrary to the Duchess of Windsor’s dictum, you can
be too thin.
If your bones don’t carry enough weight,
they will lose mass. (Paraplegics and other wheelchair-bound
individuals also are at risk.) That’s why you have to make
your bones work. Cardiovascular exercise such as biking or
swimming is good for the heart, but less so for your bones.
Engage in weight-bearing exercises such as running, jumping,
and lifting as well. (Consult with your physician first.)
8. Many older women have fractured spines – but they
don’t know it because they don’t feel or hear the bone
When older women lose height, suffer back pain,
or develop a protruding abdomen or Dowager’s Hump on their
back, chances are “that’s a sign of a vertebral fracture of
the spine,” Dr. Hamerman points out. About 700,000 women
suffer vertebral fractures each year. Brittle teeth also can
be an early sign of osteoporosis.
9. Many women know there is a link between estrogen and
bone health, which is why post-menopausal women have a
higher risk of osteoporosis.
But in some circumstances,
pre-menopausal women may not produce enough estrogen. Early
menopause, amenorrhea (loss of your period, sometimes as a
result of too much exercise), estrogen inhibiting
birth-control pharmaceuticals such as Depo-Provera, late
puberty, irregular periods, or other menstrual disorders put
women at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
10. Some medications reduce bone mass,
such as glucocorticoids used to control arthritis and asthma, some
antiseizure drugs; certain sleeping pills, some hormones
used to treat endometriosis, and some cancer drugs. Certain
medical conditions also increase the risk of brittle bones,
including an overactive thyroid gland, kidney disease, and
Montefiore’s Center for Bone Health
Montefiore’s Center for Bone Health was recently formed to
provide bone examination and counseling. Patients can call
for an appointment or ask for a referral from their
physicians. The Center is a network of bone health experts
drawn from the (MMC) Department of Pediatrics’ Section on
Adolescent Medicine; the Department of Obstetrics/
Gynecology and Women’s Health’s Division of Reproductive
Endocrinology; and the Department of Medicine’s Divisions of
Geriatrics, Endocrinology, and Renal Disease. The network
also includes specialists in orthopedic surgery,
rehabilitation, and radiology.
Men and women in the New York Metro area who want to assess
their bone health can make an appointment by calling
1-800-MD-MONTE. The operator will match callers to a
specialist appropriate to each person’s age and gender.
Typically, patients under the care of their own physician
will see their Montefiore bone specialist just once or
Source: Montefiore Medical Center - Newswise
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