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Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become more fragile and prone to fractures. The internal structure of your bones becomes less dense through the increase in bone loss and reduction in bone formation that can occur with aging. This makes bones weaker and less resilient to the stresses they are exposed to through every day living, and therefore more likely to break.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. Another 18 million have low bone mass and are at an increased risk for the disease. Osteoporosis is common among the elderly, but the disease can strike at any age.


  • Risk Factors:

  • Being female, being very thin

  • Having low estrogen levels (including after menopause)

  • Being older -- after age 75, the risk is the same for men and women

  • Living a sedentary lifestyle

  • Family history of osteoporosis

  • Late onset of menstruation or early menopause

  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking too much caffeine, or drinking alcohol regularly

  • Diet low in calcium or high in sodium

  • Long-term use of certain medications, including corticosteroids, diuretics, and thyroid medications Treatment:

    There is no cure for osteoporosis; however, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help improve the quality and strength of your bones. These include making sure that you have a well balanced diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D. Studies suggest that diets rich in the following foods and nutrients may help prevent bone loss in both men and women: " Calcium -- Low-fat milk, cheese, broccoli, salmon, tofu, and almonds are rich in calcium. Orange juice and cereals often are fortified with calcium.

    Recommended intakes of calcium are as follows (note that you generally get from 500 - 700 mg of calcium in your diet):

  • Children: 800 - 1,200 mg/day

  • Adolescent girls: 1,200 - 1,500 mg/day

  • Premenopausal women (19 - 50 years old): 1,000 mg/day

  • Older adults (51 - 70 years old): 1,200 - 1,500 mg/day

  • Magnesium -- Avocado, banana, cantaloupe, honeydew, lima beans, low-fat milk, nectarine, orange juice, potato, spinach

  • Potassium -- Whole grains, nuts, spinach, oatmeal, potato, peanut butter

  • Vitamin D -- The body makes vitamin D after exposure to sunlight. It is also found in fatty fish and fortified cereals and milk

  • Vitamin K -- Leafy greens, cauliflower

  • Fruits and vegetables

    If you do not get enough calcium from food alone, you may want to take a calcium supplement. There are several different kinds available. Ask your doctor which one is right for you:

  • Calcium citrate (Citrical, Solgar) -- Most easily absorbed; costs more

  • Calcium carbonate (Tums, Caltrate, Rolaids) -- least expensive; must be taken with meals or a glass of orange (acidic) juice; may cause gas or constipation

  • Calcium phosphate (Posture) -- Easily absorbed, does not cause stomach upset; more expensive than calcium carbonate Exercise

    Exercise can help prevent bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise (walking, weight-lifting) stimulates bones to produce more cells, slowing bone loss. Exercise also improves balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination -- thereby reducing falls and broken bones associated with osteoporosis.

    Can chiropractic help?

    Whilst Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, Chiropractors also take a holistic approach to your health and well-being. This means we consider your symptoms in the context of your full medical history, lifestyle and personal circumstances to provide you with the best options of care about work, lifestyle and activity to aid recovery and help you to manage your condition in the best way.

    Your Chiropractor can modify treatment styles to suit you and your condition and can recommend specific exercises to strengthen and support your joints and your back. Whilst exercise is good for someone with osteoporosis, care must be taken to ensure no sudden or excessive strains are put on your bones. Care should be taken when lifting heavy objects and steps taken to prevent falls to minimise the risk of breaking bones.
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