May is National Osteoporosis
Awareness Month

Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that affects
44 million Americans or more than half of women
50 years of age and older.  Characterized by
fragile, porous bones that break easily, this
disease can be treated and even prevented. The
National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has
designated May as National Osteoporosis
Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of
Public Health wants to observe this month by
sharing some information about the disease.
Simple Ways to Boost Your Calcium Intake:
    Breakfast: Drink a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice, toss low-fat cheese in an omelet,
    make a smoothie with skim milk and low-fat yogurt, add low-fat milk instead of water to
    oatmeal and other hot cereal, or pour soy milk into your cereal.

    Lunch:  Add low-fat shredded cheese to a salad or soup, top a sandwich (made with
    calcium-fortified bread) with low-fat cheese slices, or add low-fat milk instead of water to
    creamed soups.

    Dinner: Make a salad with dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, top salads soups
    and stews with low-fat shredded cheese, add tofu made with calcium to stir fry and other
    dishes, or make macaroni and cheese with low-fat cheese and whole-wheat pasta.

    Snacks:  Enjoy frozen yogurt, dip fruits and vegetables into yogurt, have low-fat cheese
    with crackers, eat pudding made with skim milk or soy milk, or eat low-fat string cheese.

While adequate calcium intake plays a key role in preventing osteoporosis, do not forget to
incorporate vitamin D.  Adults younger than age 50 need 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and
adults 50 and older need 800 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3.  Vitamin D also can be found in fortified
milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and supplements.
Engage in Weight-Bearing Physical Activity
Engage in regular weight-bearing and resistance exercises, including:
  • Walking, jogging or running
  • Tennis or racquetball
  • Field hockey
  • Stair climbing
  • Jumping rope                   
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Soccer
  • Weight lifting

In the News
  • The World Health Organization has created an online tool to calculate long-term risk of hip
    fracture or other major bone breaks.  The new Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX) tool
    takes into account bone density as well as nine specific risk factors, such as smoking,
    alcohol use and family history.   The information is entered into a computer and produces
    an algorithm which estimates the likelihood of a person to break a bone due to low bone
    mass or osteoporosis over a 10-year period.  For more information, including calculation
    tools, visit http://www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/index.htm.
  • The National Osteoporosis Foundation released its new Clinician’s Guide to Prevention
    and Treatment of Osteoporosis representing a major breakthrough in the way health care
    providers evaluate and treat people with low bone mass or osteoporosis and the risk of
    fractures.  The new guide introduces guidelines beyond Caucasian postmenopausal
    women to include African-American, Asian, Latina and other postmenopausal women.  The
    new guide applies the recently released FRAX tool (see previous news story).  For more
    information, visit http://www.nof.org/news/pressreleases/Clinician_Guide_release.htm.

  • The Alliance for Aging Research has developed a new resource to educate women about
    osteoporosis, also known as porous bone disease.  The “Standing Strong” toolkit includes
    a leader’s guide, an educational video and patient brochures and is designed to assist
    community groups in hosting workshops to educate older adults about the disease.  The
    materials focus on effective communication between women and their health care
    professionals as a key factor in improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of
    osteoporosis.  For more information or to order a toolkit, visit www.agingresearch.org.
  • The National Institutes of Health, Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National
    Resource Center has developed a bilingual storybook entitled “Isabel’s Story: How She
    and Her Family Learned About Osteoporosis and Bone Health.”  The publication is
    designed to educate women and their families about the importance of bone health and
    osteoporosis prevention.  The storybook is available in an English/Spanish back-to-back
    flip format.  To order free copies, contact 800-624-2663.  

  • Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, 8 million are women and 2
    million are men.
  • In the United States, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and
    almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased
    risk for osteoporosis.
  • In 2005, osteoporosis-related fractures were responsible for an estimated $19 billion in
  • By 2025, experts predict that these costs will rise to approximately $25.3 billion.
  • Osteoporosis was responsible for more than 2 million fractures in 2005.

Source:  National Osteoporosis Foundation; CDC

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Fast Facts

What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a condition in which bones become weak and can break easily.
Bone is formed up to the age of about 30, making childhood and teenage years the most critical
for building bone mass. Girls who reach optimal bone mass during these years are less likely to
develop this disease. After age 30, the body begins to break bone down faster than it
replenishes it. This is particularly true for women after the onset of menopause.   
To determine your risk, ask your doctor about getting a bone mineral density test.  This is a
painless, non-invasive test that accurately detects osteoporosis before a bone breaks.  

Who is at risk for osteoporosis?
Certain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others.  Factors that increase the
likelihood of developing osteoporosis include being female; of an older age; having a family or
personal history of broken bones; being small-boned or thin; being Caucasian, Asian or
Hispanic/Latino; smoking; abusing alcohol; leading an inactive lifestyle; having low sex hormones;
eating a diet low in calcium and Vitamin D; the use of certain medications; and having certain
diseases or conditions.

How can osteoporosis be prevented?
Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can optimize bone health and help
prevent osteoporosis later in life.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are
five steps which, when taken together, can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.  
They are:
  1. Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
  2. Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise.
  3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.
  4. Talk to your health care provider about bone health.
  5. Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate.

Increase Your Intake of Calcium    
Calcium is essential to developing and maintaining bone  strength and plays an important part in
preventing osteoporosis.  Calcium requirements recommended by the National Institutes of
Health are:
Birth - 6 months
6 months - 1 year
1 to 5 years
6 to 10 years
800 - 1,200
11 to 24 years
200 - 1,500
Women aged 25 to 50 years
Women, pregnant or nursing
1,200 - 1,500
Postmenopausal women (50-65)
1,500 (1,000 if taking estrogen)
Women older than 65 years
Section of bone
showing osteoporosis
Normal Bone
Osteoporosis Bone