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Osteoporosis Health Center

Understanding Osteoporosis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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An Osteoporosis Diet for Strong Bones

To ensure that you're getting enough calcium to build and maintain strong bones, doctors recommend eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, such as nonfat milk, low-fat yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu, and leafy green vegetables. One glass of skim milk has the same amount of calcium as whole milk -- 300 mg of calcium.

According to a panel convened by the National Institutes of Health, women who are still menstruating, or who are postmenopausal but taking menopausal hormone therapy, should get 1,000 mg of calcium each day. This jumps to 1,000-1,300 mg per day for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Postmenopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy should get 1,200 mg of calcium per day.

The recommended daily intake of calcium for men is 1,000 mg per day (25 to 70 years old) and 1,200 mg per day from age 71 and up.

Because most women take in only about one-half or one-third as much calcium as they need through their diet, most doctors recommend calcium supplements to make up the difference. Calcium supplements are available in many forms, but calcium citrate and calcium gluconate appear to be more effective at reducing bone loss.

To help your body absorb calcium, doctors suggest taking vitamin D supplements, from 400 to 800 IU daily. The vitamin D is needed to help your body move calcium and other minerals into or out of bones; without vitamin D, dietary calcium is eliminated from the body.

Because calcium supplements can inhibit the absorption of certain drugs, check with your doctor before beginning calcium supplements if you are on any medication. You may need to take supplements at a different time of day than other medications.

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