Women’s magazines have millions of articles that tout the importance of calcium in our diet and the need for weight-bearing exercise. Is there more to it… and is it actually possible to prevent fractures in our later years?
There are close to 400 000 Quebec women suffering from PMO, postmenopausal osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a low bone mass and deterioration in bone tissue. It leads to bone fragility and increased risk of fractures, mainly in the hip, spine and wrist.
The scary part is that bone loss occurs without symptoms. A Quebec study in 2008 called the ROCQ (Recognizing Osteoporosis and its Consequences in Quebec), 3288 women took part. The results of this study show that 80% of fractures reported in women of 50 years and older were directly related to osteoporosis. Interestingly, 80% of these women had never been diagnosed or treated for this disease.
So let’s be pro-active. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health. It can be done publicly or privately. Findprivateclinics.ca can help you find a clinic near you. This test should be done on all women over 60 years old and women less than 65 with risk factors. Also for men who are over 65 years or 50-69 years with risk factors.
These are some risk factors to consider;
- Getting older
- Being small and thin
- Family history
- Taking certain meds (corticosteroids, some meds for depression or acid reflux)
- Being White or Asian
- Having osteopenia (low bone density)
- Being a smoker
So let’s fight.
Briefly, here are some things that can help;
- lower salt intake (causes calcium to be excreted)
- lower caffeine intake (interferes with calcium absorption)
- not smoking (impedes healing and the body’s ability to make new bone)
- watch medication intake and limit alcohol consumption
- More than 2 drinks a day can reduce the absorption of calcium reserves and reduce estrogen needed for bone production.
Calcium is very important.
Generally adults require 1000mg/day which includes calcium in your diet. Women over 50 years old and men over 70 may require
1200mg/day according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). It’s important to take only the recommended dose and take with vitamin D. Too much calcium can increase the risk for kidney stones. Most people can get enough in their diet.
There are medications that can help such as oral bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva) which have been available a long time but can have frequent and sometimes serious side –effects. This is also true for injectable bisphosphonates such as Aclasta or zoledronic acid. Many enjoy the convenience of Aclasta because it is a once a year injection. The Quebec government has decided to cover Aclasta infusions for women with PMO who cannot tolerate oral bisphosphonates. We do offer it here at AccessMed.
There are ways to maintain good bone health but it’s up to us to make good choices and to think about bones before the problems start. Osteoporosis Canada has a site in which you can find all kinds of great info.
Make sure to talk about your bones at your next visit with the GP.
R. Shaffer, RN