Men Not Immune To Osteoporosis Cautions LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/19/2005 10:28:29 PM

News You Can Use For June 2004

"This Father’s Day, give your dad a health tip about preventing osteoporosis," suggests LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames. Although most people think of osteoporosis as a woman’s disease, more than 2 million American men have osteoporosis, and 12 million more are at high risk for the disease.

A recent study presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting reported that men with osteoporosis have more severe symptoms and higher rates of fractures than women, because osteoporosis in men is often overlooked and not diagnosed.

Each year, men suffer one-third of all the hip fractures that occur, and one-third of these men will not survive more than a year. In addition to hip fracture, men also experience painful and debilitating fractures of the spine, wrist and other bones due to osteoporosis. Losing height or breaking a bone may be the first sign of osteoporosis.

"Osteoporosis can strike at any age, but the risk increases as you get older," Reames says, adding, "Men tend to get it about 10 years later in life than women, because they usually have larger, stronger bones than women."

Bone is living, changing tissue. Throughout life, bone is removed and rebuilt. During youth, bones grow in length and density. Although maximum height is reached during the teen years, bones continue to become denser until about age 30 when peak bone density is attained. After that point, bones slowly start to lose density or strength.

Getting enough calcium throughout life is important because the nutrient helps build and preserve strong bones. Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium.

"Since June is also Dairy Month, serve your dad a glass of low-fat milk to help keep his bones strong and prevent osteoporosis," Reames advises, explaining, "It’s important to get enough calcium each day – 1,000 mg/day for ages 19-50 years and 1,200 mg/day age 51 and older."

Many foods are rich in calcium: Low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and milk; canned fish with bones you can eat, such as salmon and sardines; dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, collard, and broccoli; orange juice, cereals and breakfast bars that have added calcium.

Add nonfat powdered dry milk to puddings, homemade cookies, breads or muffins, soups, gravy, casseroles and even a glass of milk. A single tablespoon of nonfat powdered dry milk adds 52 mg of calcium, and 2 to 4 tablespoons can be added to most recipes.

"If you don’t get enough calcium from your food, you might think about taking a calcium supplement," Reames says, but cautions, "Always check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement."

It’s also important to get adequate vitamin D intake to help the body use calcium to make bone. Normally, the body makes enough vitamin D from exposure to as little as 10 minutes of sunlight a day. If exposure to sunlight is inadequate, vitamin D intake from supplements should be 5 micrograms/day for age 19-50 years, 10 micrograms/day for age 50-70 years and 15 micrograms/day for men 70 and older. Vitamin D intake should not exceed 50 micrograms/day.

Weight-bearing exercise, where bone and muscles work against gravity, is important to keep bones strong. This includes walking, jogging, racquet sports, stair climbing and team sports. Also, lifting weights or using resistance machines appears to help preserve bone density.

Exercise also improves balance and muscle tone and imparts a sense of well-being. If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to ask your doctor about the safety of exercise.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at
/Extension/Departments/fcs/.  For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or

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