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Fit And Well Idaho: Preventing Osteoporosis

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By Aimee Burnett

Jerome, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) By 2020, half of all Americans older than fifty will be at risk for bone fractures as a result of osteoporosis.

That's according to the Surgeon General's report on bone health.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a condition in which bones become brittle and fragile from tissue loss.

"You don't really usually know you have osteoporosis until you get a broken bone," explains Dr. Elizabeth Sugden.

Dr. Sugden is a family physician at St. Luke's Jerome.

As she explains, osteoporosis is more common in women than men and typically starts to progress in women after age fifty.

"Menopause is a time when estrogen levels drop, and the density and thickness of a person's bones are related to estrogen," she says.

As menopause occurs, the loss of bone accelerates.

Dr. Sugden recommends women use preventative measures while they're young.

"It helps to get a lot of weight baring exercise like aerobics or walking, strength training, resistance types of exercise," she explains.

That should be coupled with a diet rich in Vitamins C and D. 1,200 milligrams of Vitamin C is recommended a day, along with 400 international units of Vitamin D.

And, low fat dairy products aren't the only place you'll find the vitamins you need.

"You can get calcium in some green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, almonds have some, there's calcium-fortified orange juice. And, then there are a lot of supplements," Sugden explains.

The recommendation is not to screen for osteoporosis until women turn 65, but there are exceptions for those at higher risk.

"People who have been on steroid treatments, prednisone, for a variety of medical conditions. People with celiac disease, or people who don't absorb things in their intestines for a variety of illnesses," Sugden says.

A simple test now could save you from a serious injury down the road.

For more information on osteoporosis, head to St. Luke's patient portal... or talk with your doctor.