Significant Osteoporosis Studies

by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT

Risk Factors and Treatment

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, half of all U.S. women and at least 1 in 8 U.S. men, will have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in their lives. Risk factors include low body weight, low calcium intake, poor health, a history of fracture in a first-degree relative, and the taking of corticosteroid drugs. Treatment can involve hormone replacement therapy, alendronate (Fosamax), and calcitonin. They should be combined with getting at least 1200 mg of calcium, 600 IUs of vitamin D (or 15 minutes of daily of sunlight), and doing weight bearing exercise. (Harvard Health Letter, February 1999.)

More Risk Factors

Other risk factors of osteoporosis are current cigarette smoking (Blue Shield Newsletter, Summer 1996); prolonged use of drugs, caffeine or highphosphate drinks - ie. sodas (Ace Fitness Matters, 1(3), 1995); consumption of more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter, June 1996); depression - which raises cortisol levels (Health, February 1997); and consumption of more than 1.5 alcoholic drinks per day (Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter, November 1996).

Bone Density Testing

The FDA recently approved two new portable ultrasound devices for measuring bone density which are portable, less expensive than the traditional dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans, and take only a few seconds. They use high frequency sound waves, rather than radiation, to measure bone density in your heel or tibia. They're small enough that they should start showing up in doctor's offices, and maybe even the malls! (U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter, December 1998.)

Eat Your Dark Green Veggies!

Vitamin K is the latest nutrient found to be beneficial for warding off hip fractures. Vitamin K is thought to allow a specific bone protein to undergo a chemical alteration that then lets it take its place in the body's skeletal structure. Harvard and Tufts researchers found that women who consumed at least 109 micrograms of vitamin K per day were 30 percent less likely to suffer a hip fracture over a 10-year period than those who took less. One half-cup serving of a dark green vegetable is enough to cover the new recommended amount. (Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March, 1999.)

Plyometrics for Building Bone Mass

A study done at Oregon State University showed that bones need more that just weight bearing exercise to derive the most benefit - they need to be surprised. Christine Snow, director of the Bone Research Lab at Oregon State found that gymnasts have 30 percent more bone mass in their hips than competitive runners do. Walking generates an impact of about one and a half times your body weight, which is enough to slow bone loss, but you need an impact of at least three times your body weight to actually build bone. (That makes jogging borderline.) So what should you do? Lift weights, hike in the hills, climb real stairs, play basketball, take step aerobics, or simply incorporate vertical jumping into your workout! (Health, September 1998.)

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