Does Nutrition Affect Osteoporosis?


How Does Nutrition Affect Osteoporosis?

A comprehensive osteoporosis treatment program will include proper nutrition and exercise and may include medications that can slow or stop bone loss and increase bone density. Because a major immediate goal in osteoporosis treatment is preventing fractures, your doctor also may propose a program to lessen the risk of falls that may lead to fractures.

Nutrition

Calcium and vitamin D are considered the most important nutrients for proper bone health. A U.S. government publication called ''Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General'' lists the following recommended daily allowances (RDA) for both sexes by age group for these nutrients:

Calcium: There are many sources of calcium, including milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, sardines, salmon, fortified orange juice and green vegetables such as spinach, as well as calcium supplements. The RDA is:

  • 1,300 mg per day for people from 9 to 18 years old, the years of peak bone growth.
  • 1,000 mg per day for people from 19 to 50
  • 1,200 mg per day for those 51 and older

Vitamin D: Sources include sunlight, fortified milk and cereals, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, and egg yolk. The RDA is:

  • 200 IU per day from birth to age 50
  • 400 IU per day for those 51 to 70
  • 600 IU per day over age 70

In addition to vitamin D and calcium, the Surgeon General's report recommends many more minerals and nutrients that are either important components of bone tissue or help enzymes generate optimal bone structure. These include phosphorous, protein, magnesium, iron, boron, copper, manganese, zinc, vitamins C and K, and fluoride. Most of these nutrients are found in the familiar categories of foods - meat, dairy, vegetables and fruits, and grains - that make up a balanced diet, or they can be taken as dietary supplements.
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