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Fractures and Osteoporosis

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Most people don’t realize the real reason for many

fractures of the hip, spine and wrist. Bone loss, or

Osteoporosis, contributes to 90% of hip fractures. Persons

with disabilities which involve limitation of movement are

especially prone to bone loss due to inactivity, prolonged

casting or splinting, or paralysis. Osteoporosis occurs over

a long period of time and often goes undetected until the

fracture occurs. Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining

bone health and quality of life.

When thinking about osteoporosis, calcium,

especially from dairy products, is what comes to most

people’s minds. It was once thought that after young

adulthood calcium was of questionable benefit but newer

research and recommendations suggest otherwise. Good calcium

intake early in life can reduce hip fractures by 50% in later

life. It has also been found that lifetime attention to good

calcium intake decreases the incidence of osteoporosis at an

advanced age. In 1994 the National Institutes of Health put

together a panel of calcium experts and came up with new

recommendations that cover the life cycle.

New Calcium Recommendations(From the 1994 National Institutes of Health

Consensus Conference)

AgeCalcium (mg/day)# Dairy Servings to

Meet Recommendations





800 – 1,200

2 – 4


1,200 – 1,500

4 – 5

25-65/men and 25-50/women


3 – 4

Pregnant and Lactating Women



Postmenopausal on Estrogen


3 – 4

(not on

Estrogen) & adults >65



The amount of dietary calcium

recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is

designed to provide the optimal amount of calcium needed at

different ages and stages of life.

Just knowing you need more calcium is not

enough. Calcium consumption, and intake of vitamin D that

helps absorption, is often low, especially in American

females. Many people needlessly stop eating or drinking dairy

products out of concern for their cholesterol levels.

Although whole milk dairy products contain saturated fat that

can increase blood cholesterol, a switch to low fat or skim

milk dairy products lowers fat but still provides the same

calcium. Others avoid milk because of lactose intolerance.

Many of these people can consume some amount of dairy

products, i.e. cheese or yogurt without intestinal distress.

The enzyme lactase is helpful and available in a commercial

product called Lactaid. Lactaid drops, tablets or milk help

many people resume eating dairy products comfortably. Others

may have heard how many milligrams of calcium they need but

not know what foods provide it and in what amounts. Here are

some ideas:

Food Source

Calcium (in


1 cup plain non-fat yogurt


1 cup low-fat fruit flavored yogurt


1-1/2 oz. Swiss cheese


1-1/2 oz. cheddar cheese


1 cup skim milk


1 cup 1% milk


1 cup 2% milk


1 cup whole milk


1/2 cup cooked pudding


1/2 cup frozen vanilla yogurt


1/2 cup tofu (w/calcium


Some people don’t like dairy products or

don’t eat them, i.e. strict vegetarians. For these people,

calcium fortified foods like orange juice (about 160 mg per

3/4 cup juice), bread and cereals are an option. Others may

need to take a calcium supplement upon the advice of their

doctor or registered dietitian.

While trying to build up your bones with

calcium, keep these other things in mind:

  • Vitamin D is needed for good calcium

    absorption and is found in vitamin D fortified milk,

    egg yolks and fatty fish. For Vitamin D to become

    biologically active in all of its forms, exposure to

    sunlight is required [vitamin D reacts with sunlight

    in the skin to become vitamin D2 –especially

    important to remember with someone who is spending

    much time indoors].

  • Excessive amounts of caffeine, salt

    and alcohol can decrease calcium absorption.

  • Physical activity and weight bearing

    exercises help prevent bone loss in all age groups.

    Your physician or physical therapist can help you

    design the best and safest exercise program for your


Osteoporosis and related fractures affect

25 million people in the United States at a cost of 10

billion dollars per year. As we look for ways to control

healthcare costs and keep people healthy, low cost

interventions such as adequate nutrition and appropriate

lifestyle changes make a great deal of sense.

For more information you may wish to

contact these resources:

National Osteoporosis Foundation

1150 17th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20036-4603

Phone 1-800-223-9994

National Center

for Nutrition and Dietetics

Consumer Nutrition Hot Line:


For people with lactose