About Osteoporosis: Treatment and Prevention

There are several treatments for osteoporosis, but prevention is by far the best strategy to fight the disease. Maintenance of good bone strength requires that you have a regular intake of calcium.

The Osteoporosis Society of Canada recommends 1,000 mg elemental calcium daily for men and women aged between 19 and 50 years, and 1,500 mg for men and women over the age of 50 years. Postmenopausal women not taking hormone replacement therapy should have 1,500 mg elemental calcium daily. The Osteoporosis Society of Canada also recommends regular weight-bearing exercise and a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive intake of alcohol. Vitamin D in daily doses of 400 IU to 800 IU is also recommended in the treatment of osteoporosis to help increase calcium absorption in the bones.

Weight-bearing exercises play a role in strengthening bones and preventing fractures. Posture and balance can be improved through exercise and can significantly reduce the risk of bone fractures. Moderate exercise, such as walking 45 to 60 minutes three to five times weekly, is considered a safe and reasonable strategy to prevent osteoporosis.

Despite better understanding of how osteoporosis may be prevented, drug treatments are still needed to help fight this condition.

The bisphosphonates (e.g., alendronate, etidronate, risedronate) are one of the main groups of medications that may be used to prevent and treat osteoporosis. These medications slow down bone loss and help repair bone, reducing the chance of fracture. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as raloxifene, may also be used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in women.

Calcitonin, a hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland, has also been shown to strengthen bone and can be injected or taken through a nasal spray. Two or more medications may also be used in combination to treat some cases of osteoporosis.

A variety of hormone-replacement therapies (HRTs) are available for women who have reached menopause. Estrogen replacement helps to preserve bone, but the therapy has a number of health risks. If you are taking or are considering taking HRT, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

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