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April 2024


Osteoporosis, a medical term that means porous bone, is a common condition. It is estimated that about 8 million women in the United States live with osteoporosis. Men also have a risk of osteoporosis, although the condition affects a higher percentage of women. It is estimated that 2,000,000 men in the United States have osteoporosis and another 3,000,000 are at risk. 


In women, osteoporosis occurs most commonly after menopause, as the loss of estrogen allows for a loss of bone mass. In men, osteoporosis becomes more prevalent after 70 years of age. The cause of osteoporosis in men and women can be related to deficiencies of vitamin D and calcium, as well as tobacco use. In men, it may be related to decreasing testosterone levels and some treatments used for prostate cancer can increase the risk of bone thinning.


The most important things a person can do to prevent osteoporosis include eating a healthy diet that is rich in calcium, performing regular weight-bearing exercise, and avoiding smoking.


The best diet for bone health ensures that you get enough protein and calories, as well as plenty of vitamin D and calcium, which are important to the maintenance of bone formation and bone strength.


Women before menopause and men of all ages should consume at least 1000 mg of calcium per day. After menopause, women should consume 1200 mg of calcium per day.  Sources of calcium in your diet include milk, kefir, and other dairy products, green vegetables such as kale, bok choy, and broccoli, canned fish such as sardines and salmon, and seeds such as sesame seeds and chia seeds. You can estimate how much calcium you take in by multiplying the number of dairy servings that you eat each day by 300 mg. For example, 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, or an ounce of hard cheese such as Parmesan all contain enough calcium to estimate them at 300 mg each for your intake for the day.


If you do not feel you are getting enough calcium from dietary sources, supplements are available over the counter to increase your calcium intake. Calcium supplements come in two forms, calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate can be taken on an empty stomach and calcium carbonate is better absorbed if taken with food. If you decide that you need more than 500-600 mg of calcium supplementation daily you should split it into two doses, one in the morning and one in the evening. If you have questions about what supplement or dosage might be right for you, ask your healthcare provider for guidance.


Vitamin D is also important for calcium absorption and bone health. It is recommended that postmenopausal women and men over 70 get 800 international units (20 mcg) of D3 every day. This dose seems to be adequate to prevent bone loss in individuals who are getting adequate calcium daily. You, or people that you know, may take much more vitamin D than that every day. There are lots of reasons for vitamin D supplementation at different doses and if you have questions about the amount you should take, you may discuss it with your healthcare professional.


Smoking is known to speed bone loss and quitting smoking is important for all aspects of your health. If you are not already aware there are many medications and programs, including one that will send caring text messages to your phone, to help you quit smoking. The staff at Block Island Health Services would love to help you quit.


Exercise may help to prevent bone loss in premenopausal women and all men and help women to maintain bone strength after menopause. Exercise also helps strengthen muscles, improve balance, and make you less likely to have a fall that could cause a bone break. The recommendation is at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Many types of exercise including walking, jumping, jogging, and resistance training with free weights or exercise bands are effective for building and maintaining bone and muscle strength. The benefits of exercise are not maintained unless you continue to exercise for your lifetime, so find an exercise routine that you enjoy so that you will keep it up.


    Laurie Anderson, APRN-C, CDOE



As a part of the BIHS Women’s Health Program, we invite you to join us for a gentle yoga class with Susan Stover, followed by a presentation by nurse practitioner Laurie Anderson on osteoporosis, treatment and prevention options, and the benefits of weight-bearing exercise!

Save the date: 

Saturday, April 20th

9:00-11:00 AM

Community Center