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Lifestyle Choices and Dietary Supplements to Help Prevent Osteoporosis

  • Reduce the amount of poultry, fish and meat you eat to 6 to 8 oz per day.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking lowers bone mass and increases fracture rates, at least in part, by increasing the metabolism of sex hormones.
  • Exercise maintains the strength of bones. Perform weight bearing exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Check with your health care provider before you begin any new exercise program.
  • Calcium: Calcium helps decrease bone loss and prevent osteoporosis. Estrogen helps bones absorb the calcium needed to stay strong. It also helps conserve the calcium stored in the bones by encouraging other cells to use dietary calcium more efficiently. For instance, muscles require calcium to contract. If there is not enough calcium circulating in the body for muscles to use, calcium is borrowed from the bone. The recommended daily intake from food and/or supplements is 1200 mg or 1000 mg (elemental calcium). Elemental Calcium is a term on supplement labels referring to the amount of calcium present among other elements. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two forms which offer the best value. Calcium carbonate should be consumed with food since it requires the production of acid in the stomach to obtain good absorption. Calcium citrate is not affected by low acid. Calcium may be very constipating, but some people find calcium supplements with magnesium helpful.

    You may benefit from dividing a 1000mg supplement into two 500mg portions taken in the mornin and evening. For example, an antacid may contain 1,200 milligrams of calcium carbonate, but just 500 milligrams of calcium itself; the rest is made up of carbonate. Read the label to find out how much a dose supplies. Calcium carbonate is 40% elemental calcium, whereas calcium citrate is 21% elemental calcium. If you take water pills or any heart medication, check with your doctor to find out what your specific dose should be, since calcium may interfere with these medications.

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is needed for bone growth and proper calcium absorption. The daily recommended dose is 320 to 500 mg. Good food sources are whole-grain breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, fish and nuts. Many magnesium supplements are used as laxatives so it is better to obtain magnesium from food rather than supplements.
  • Vitamin D: This vitamin helps in the absorption of calcium from your intestinal tract. The recommended dose for women 51-70 years old is 400 IU and 600 IU for women over 70 daily since aging reduces the amount of vitamin D produced by the body. Fifteen minutes of sunshine a day without a sunscreen will produce the daily requirement of vitamin D. In Michigan, during November through February, the sunlight is too weak to synthesize vitamin D, so it is especially important to consume vitamin D fortified foods such as low-fat milk and other dairy products. Multiple vitamins and calcium supplements many contain vitamin D, so be sure to check total consumption of vitamin D from all sources since excess can be harmful.

Lifestyle Choices and Dietary Supplements to Help Prevent Heart Disease

  • Many scientists believe that estrogen offers some protection against heart disease. As women approach menopause and estrogen levels drop, by the age of 65 women are at nearly the same risk for heart disease as men.
  • Women have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure if they are 20 pounds or more over a healthy weight.
  • The three major risk factors for heart attack - high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess body weight - can be reduced by eating a healthy diet. Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat and/or cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Reduce fat intake to 30 to 50 grams a day.
  • There is weak evidence that vitamin E may protect against heart disease. If you follow a low-fat diet, getting adequate amounts of vitamin E can be difficult. Limit your daily dose to 400 IU. It is very important for women with high blood pressure, diabetes or bleeding problems to check with their health care provider before taking vitamin E. If you are taking blood thinners such as coumadin, vitamin E can cause an increased chance of bleeding.
  • The heart is a muscle and like any muscle, needs exercise to stay in shape. Exercise at least five to six times a week for 30 minutes. Always check with your primary care physician before beginning a new program.
  • Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you use each day. Your body weight multiplied by 15 calories equals the average number of calories used in one day if you are moderately active. Do enough activities to use up more calories than you eat every day.
  • Stop smoking. Low estrogen levels and smoking are separate risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When the two are combined the risk is much higher than either one alone.