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Davis Square Family Practice
Office Hours
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Deborah Bershel, MD
Michelle Clark, NP
Carmen Phillips, NP
"Call our office to receive logon credentials."
Barbara Kaplan, LICSW
Andrea Dandridge, NP
Osteoporosis in Women:
Keeping your bones healthy and strong
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What is osteoporosis?

In osteoporosis, the inside of the bones becomes porous and thin. Over time this weakens the bones and may make them more likely to break.

Osteoporosis is much more common in women then in men. This is because women have less bone mass then men. Women need the female hormone estrogen to keep their bones strong. Men, if they live long enough are also at risk of getting osteoporosis later in life.

Once total bone mass has peaked -around 35 - all adults start to lose it. In women, the rate of bone lose speeds up during menopause, when estrogen levels fall. Bone loss may also occur if both ovaries are removed by surgery. Your ovaries make estrogen.

What are signs of osteoporosis?

You may not know that you have osteoporosis until you have serious signs. Signs include a broken wrist or hip, low back pain or a hunched back. You may get shorter over time. This is because osteoporosis can cause the bones in your spine, vertebrae, to collapse. These are called compression fractures, and they can cause sever back pain. These problems can occur after a lot of bone calcium has been lost.

What increases my risk of getting osteoporosis?

Below is a list of things that can put you at risk for osteoporosis. The more of these that apply to you, the higher your risk. Talk to your family doctor if you think that you may be at risk for osteoporosis.

Late onset of menstruation
Menopause before age 48
Surgery to remove ovaries before normal menopause
Not getting enough exercise
Osteoporosis in your family
Alcohol abuse
Small bone frame
Fair skin
Use of steroids

Tips to keep bones strong and avoid falls.
Eat a normal, well-balanced diet.
Don't use throw rugs in your home. They can trip you.
Wear flat, rubber-soled shoes.
Use a cane or walker if you need to.
Put hand grips and safety mats in your bathtub or shower.
Be sure stairways are well lit.
Don't stoop to pick things up. Pick up things by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.
Quit smoking. Smoking makes osteoporosis worse and may cancel out the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy.

How much calcium do I need?

Women need about 1000mg of
calcium a day before menopause. The same amount is needed after menopause if you are on estrogen. Up to 1500mg of calcium is needed a day after menopause if you are not taking estrogen.

It is usually best to try to get the calcium you need from food. Sometimes, women to do not eat enough dairy products because they think these foods are to fattening. But, nonfat and low-fat dairy products have as much calcium as those made from whole milk. Other sources of calcium include dried beans, sardines, and broccoli.

About 300mg of calcium is provided in each of the following foods: 1 cup of milk or yogurt, two cups of broccoli, or six to seven sardines.

Your doctor may suggest taking a calcium pill if you do not get enough calcium from the food you eat. Take it at mealtime or with a sip of milk. Vitamin D and lactose (the natural sugar in milk) help to absorb the calcium.

This information provides a general overview on osteoporosis and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.