Ask Dr. True - May 2015
Q: My doctor told me I have osteoporosis. What can I do to prevent bone loss?
A: Osteoporosis is a mild loss of bone mineral density (BMD), causing a moderate to severe thinning of the microarchitecture support structures within the bones. There are an estimated 53 million people in the U.S. who are affected or at risk for osteoporosis. The current medical approach uses a medication called bisphosphonates. This drug has proven effective in short-term usage. Current scientific research suggests that patients discontinue the drug after 3 to 5 years due to potential adverse effects.
Vitamin D can also be effective at treating osteoporosis. The International Osteoporosis Foundation has reported on the importance of routine testing for vitamin D levels and the need for vitamin supplementation. Lab studies for vitamin D levels should be performed at least once per year in women older than 45. In addition, regular exercise can prevent bone loss and falls, and can improve balance.
Aerobic exercises and movement with progressive resistance improves strength and balance, and can also prevent falls. Even non-weight bearing exercises help increase BMD. Also, whole body vibration devices have been reported to have some positive effects on lower extremity strength and balance. So far, these devices have had a positive effect on bone density, but more research is needed.
Dr. Jerry True