How Can Osteoporosis Be Treated?
The first step in treating osteoporosis is prevention. Building strong bones, especially before age 35, may be the best defense. Osteoporosis requires lifelong management.
Prevention and treatment may include:
- Weight-bearing and strength-training exercise:
These two types of exercise can help maintain bone density and muscle strength. Weight-bearing exercise includes dancing, walking, jogging and low-impact aerobics. Strength-training exercise includes lifting weights, using weight machines and pulling resistance rubber bands. It is critical to choose the right exercise for your condition. Those for osteopenia differ from those for osteoporosis. Learning the correct form from a physical therapist can help you get the full benefit of the proper exercise and avoid harm if you have osteoporosis. You also should see a physical therapist if you have pain or significant postural difficulty.
- Eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium:
There are many food sources for calcium.
- Supplemental calcium and Vitamin D:
A daily total of 1,200 mg of calcium from food and supplement sources is recommended. Postmenopausal women who are not on hormone therapy (also known as hormone replacement therapy) should increase the daily calcium total to 1,500 mg.
Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health. An intake of 400 to 600 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D per day is recommended for all adults over age 50. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 800 IU per day for those at risk of deficiency. This includes elderly, chronically ill, homebound or institutionalized persons.
Calcium supplements should be taken in divided doses of 500 to 600 mg at a time for adequate absorption by the body. Your health-care provider or pharmacist can advise you on the best calcium supplement for you.
- Avoid smoking and excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol and medications that can increase bone density and decrease bone fractures.