Learning More about Maintaining Bone Health

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about bone health. Information on this topic continues to catch my attention because women who go through menopause becoming increasingly at risk for osteoporosis.


    First, a Cleveland Clinic newsletter arrived in my email box that talks about the myths about calcium, vitamin D and healthy bones. And then I got wind of a brand new website entitled 2 Million 2 Many, which is an initiative of the National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA), a group comprised of 42 organizations and liaisons representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This group is working toward a shared vision of improving the overall health and quality of life of all Americans by enhancing their bone health.

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    Let’s start with 2 Million 2 Many first. This campaign by the NBHA is encouraging everyone to adopt this mantra: “If it’s 50+ fracture, request a test.” The reasoning behind this campaign is that approximately 2 million broken bones in the United States are a result of osteoporosis. One in two women who are over the age of 50 will suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis. (Men over 50 aren’t immune, though, since one in four men will have a broken bone during their lifetime). The NBHA noted that the number of bone breaks annually that are caused by osteoporosis exceeds the number of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer combined. And surprisingly, only two in 10 people with initial bone breaks get a follow-up or treatment for osteoporosis, even though 50 percent of osteoporosis-related repeat fractures can be effectively treated.

    "The sad reality is that the vast majority of patients over age 50 presenting with their first bone break are not tested for osteoporosis, placing them at the highest risk to suffer another bone break which could cause severe debilitation or even death," said Robert Lindsay, M.D., Ph.D, chief of Internal Medicine, Helen Hayes Hospital, professor of clinical medicine, Columbia University and chair, NBHA 2Million2Many Project Team.  "If we do not make major strides to intervene and tackle this problem, it will only get worse. The number of annual fractures is expected to swell to around three million and cost the healthcare system$25 billion per year by 2025; hence NBHA's '20/20' vision to reduce the incidence of bone breaks 20 percent by 2020."

    The 2 Million 2 Many website includes a list of events, resources and ways to get involved, as well as  a pledge related to osteoporosis. Definitely, check it out!

    That brings me to the Cleveland Clinic’s story. So what, pray tell, are those myths related to bone health? Here goes:

    • Myth 1: Only elderly women develop osteoporosis. The Clinic warns that anyone who doesn’t exercise or whose diet is low in calcium or vitamin D can be at risk of osteoporosis.
    • Myth 2: If you’re lactose-intolerant, you can only get calcium from supplements. The Clinic notes that yogurt with live cultures and aged cheeses have low levels or no lactose. You also can get calcium from dark leafy greens and calcium-fortified foods.
    • Myth 3: You can’t take calcium supplements if you have difficulty swallowing pills. The Clinic notes that chewable supplements of calcium citrate are available.
    • Myth 4: It’s not a big deal if you forget to take your calcium supplements. You need to keep a constant level of calcium for strong bones and muscle function. If you don’t, your body will take the calcium from bones in order to keep your blood calcium level normal.
    • Myth 5: There’s an ideal dose of vitamin D. The Cleveland Clinic notes that the frequency and dose of supplements is not well defined. Doctors may recommend high doses at different intervals or they may prescribe a daily dose of 2,000 to 4,000 IU to correct deficiencies.
    • Myth 6: Eating dairy products and taking calcium will on their own prevent osteoporosis. The Cleveland Clinic reports that healthy lifestyle choices – exercise, watching your weight, avoiding too much alcohol and not smoking – are just as important.
    • Myth 7: You can’t get too much calcium. There actually is too much of this good thing., The Chicago ENT warns too high blood calcium levels can  lead to kidney stones or kidney disease, muscle weakness, memory loss and confusion, constipation, abdominal pains, peptic ulcers, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, and heart malfunctions.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

  • Cleveland Clinic. (2012). 7 myths about calcium, vitamin D and healthy bones.

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    National Bone Health Alliance. (2012). 2 Million 2 Many website.

Published On: May 16, 2012