Alcohol and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis Management Strategies
The most effective strategy for alcohol-induced bone loss is
abstinence. People with alcoholism who abstain from drinking tend to have a
rapid recovery of osteoblastic (bone building) activity. Some studies have even
found that lost bone can be partially restored when alcohol abuse ends.
Nutrition: Due to the negative nutritional
effects of chronic alcohol use, people recovering from alcoholism should make
healthy nutritional habits a top priority. As far as bone health is concerned,
a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is critical. Good sources of
calcium include low-fat dairy products; dark green, leafy vegetables; and
calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Also, supplements can help ensure that
the calcium requirement is met each day. The Institute of Medicine recommends a
daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg (milligrams) for men and women, increasing to
1,200 mg for those over age 50.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and
bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. Food
sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. Some
individuals may require vitamin D supplements in order to achieve the
recommended intake of 400 to 800 IU (International Units) each day.
Exercise: Like muscle, bone is living tissue
that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for bones is
weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity. Some examples
include walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, and dancing. Regular
exercises such as walking may help prevent bone loss and provide many other
Healthy lifestyle: Smoking is bad for bones as
well as the heart and lungs. In addition, smokers may absorb less calcium from
their diets. Studies suggest that in people recovering from alcoholism, smoking
cessation may actually enhance abstinence from drinking. Since many suspect
that smokers who abuse alcohol tend to be more dependent on nicotine than those
who don’t, a formal smoking cessation program may be a worthwhile investment
for individuals in recovery.
Bone density test: Specialized tests known as
bone mineral density (BMD) tests measure bone density in various sites of the
body. These tests can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs and predict
one’s chances of fracturing in the future. Individuals in recovery are
encouraged to talk to their health care providers about whether they might be
candidates for a bone density test.
Medication: There is no cure for osteoporosis.
However, there are medications available to prevent and treat the disease in
postmenopausal women and in men.