The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point

Recommendations from Harvard for bone health

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch has published recommendations to lower the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis.

I supplemented their recommendations with references.

Get vital nutrients.

  • Include potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D in your diet.
  • WebMD has more here.

Exercise.

  • Get at least 30 minutes of bone-strengthening activity most days.
  • Include weight-bearing activities, like running or brisk walking, and resistance exercise.

Don’t smoke.

  • Smokers lose bone faster and have higher fracture rates.

Know your risk.

  • If you’re 65, get bone mineral density (BMD) testing.
  • Women with certain health conditions or taking drugs that increase risk should do it sooner.
  • Postmenopausal women who’ve had a fracture or have a BMD score of -2.5 or worse should consider taking bone-preserving drugs.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Greater detail on BMD testing is here.

Treat depression.

  • Women with a history of major depression have lower bone density and higher levels of cortisol — a hormone related to bone loss.
  • I believe this is the key study on this topic.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider.

Watch your weight.

  • Weight loss during menopause is more likely associated with bone loss.
  • This is a situation where losing too much weight is not good.
  • Weighing less than 127 pounds or a body mass index under 21 is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
  • Avoid ultra-low-calorie diets and diets that eliminate whole food groups.

Avoid falls.

  • Keep floors clear of tripping hazards.
  • Make sure stairways and entrances are well lit.
  • Add grab bars to your bathtub or shower.

Think you not at risk?

In one study, forearm fractures tended to occur in people with low bone mass who are otherwise in relatively good health and were physically active. They just happened to be prone to falling.

This is a hot topic. A summary of the MayoClinic.com recommendations on this topic are here. More detail about osteoporosis from The National Institutes of Health can be found here.

1/3/08 11:01 JR

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