Dietitians Dish: Osteoporosis preventable in most cases

By Lisa Hagan
Feb. 19, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 18, 2013 at 8:19 p.m.

Lisa Hagan

Lisa Hagan

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can be debilitating when bones become brittle over time because of bone loss.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. Eight million of these are women. Bone loss begins at age 30; however, for women, bone loss speeds up after menopause. The female hormones that protect the bones prior to menopause drop, leaving the bones more susceptible to loss.

Research shows that prevention involves eating adequate calcium and vitamin D along with physical weight-bearing activity. The earlier you start protecting your bones, the better. However, bone health is not limited to these nutrients. Here are some dietary suggestions that can help build healthier bones.

Choose beverages wisely

Excessive alcohol consumption increases bone loss - in fact, it is toxic to the bones. If you drink, limit alcohol consumption to one to two beverages per day.

Drink sodas in moderation

The caffeine and the phosphorus in sodas are suspected in contributing to bone loss. Also, limit coffee and tea to only two servings per day because it can interfere with calcium absorption.

Limit sodium

A diet high in sodium can lead to bone loss as well. Beware of hidden sodium that can be found in processed foods. Limit processed canned foods and table salt. Try low sodium canned foods if fresh is not available.

Balance protein intake

Eating too little or too much protein can be harmful to bones. Diets that have multiple portions of meat and other high protein servings can cause the body to lose calcium. Choosing one serving of a high protein food with each meal is ideal.

The best sources of calcium-rich foods are found in dairy products. Calcium found in dairy products is absorbed better than any other form of calcium. Low-fat milk, cheese or yogurts are the best choices. However, some people cannot tolerate dairy products. Substituting choices with almond, soy milk, orange juice, waffles or cereals that are fortified in calcium and vitamin D are just as good. Other excellent calcium-rich foods include greens (collard, turnip, kale and mustard), sardines and canned salmon with bones. Most people need two to three servings per day.

It was once believed that osteoporosis was a part of the aging process, but we now know that in most cases, it can be prevented.

The earlier we take care of our bones, the better off we will be.

It is never too late to protect your bones. Talk to your health care provider concerning other ways to ensure healthy bones for a lifetime.

Lisa Hagan is a registered and licensed dietitian with DeTar Health Systems. Send questions or comments to



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