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Preventing the Silent Disease

Aug 28, 2008
Osteoporosis is often called the silent disease as it can build up in your body for years before exhibiting any symptoms. Unless you are tested for it, doctors don't detect it until you have a fracture or your posture starts to reflect it. It is more prevalent in women than in men. In its advance stages, you see the "dowager's hump" or bent over posture in women.

It is important to work on early detection and prevention as there is no cure, only treatments. The only way to identify the presence of osteoporosis and your future risk is by requesting a bone mineral density test. This, known as a BMD, measures the density of your bone mass. It is completely noninvasive, extremely accurate and totally painless. Its results will tell your doctor if you need medication to help maintain present bone mass, prevent further bone loss, and lower risk of fractures.

Proper diet and exercise are vital to building strong bones and preventing the onset of this disease. You need a diet rich in calcium, vitamins D and K, potassium and magnesium.

Women under fifty years of age should ingest 1000 mg of calcium daily either in food or through a supplement. Women over fifty need 1200 mg.

Foods rich in calcium are milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines, salmon, and dark leafy vegetables such as turnip greens, collard, kale, bok choy and broccoli. Soy foods and white beans are also high in calcium.

If you are a dessert lover, opt for ice cream or chocolate. One cup of ice cream has 236 mg. Of calcium and a chocolate bar has

You also need magnesium which prevents bone thinning. Women should have 400 mg. Of magnesium daily which can be obtained from beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Potassium is important for neutralizing acids in your blood stream so that your body doesn't have to extract calcium from your bones to perform this crucial job. Bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, and yogurt are all rich in potassium.

Vitamin D's job is to enable your body to absorb calcium. It is obtained through the skin from exposure to sunlight and in the diet. However, few foods are naturally rich in Vitamin D. It is basically found in egg yolks, fish liver, and fish liver oils. There are many fortified foods available such as cereals and orange juice.

Women under fifty years of age need 400-800 IU's daily while women over fifty require 800-1000 IU's per day. Due to the limited availability in foods and desire of some women to avoid sunlight, a supplement might be essential.

Vitamin K reduces the risk of fracture risk. The recommended dose is 200 mcg. daily. Vitamin K is found in broccoli and dark leafy green vegetables. They should be consumed with a little fat or oil which improves absorption. There are also bone building supplements available which combine calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D.

Exercise is also essential to prevention of osteoporosis. One of the best is walking. According to Dr. Michael Holick, Boston University Medical Center, "The pounding on the pavement as you walk increases muscle tone and maintains bone density. No other exercise does this as well."

Since this disease begins early, and progresses with visible symptoms, it is important to begin prevention measures early, however, it is never too late.
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