As baby boomers age, osteoporosis – bone thinning and weakening caused by loss of calcium and other minerals – is projected to reach near-epidemic levels. Projections suggest that by 2020, half of all Americans over age 50 will be at risk for osteoporosis-related bone fractures, and by 2040 the number of hip fractures reported nationwide could double or even triple.
But before you reach for the bisphosphonates – a class of drug which builds bone density – try increasing your calcium and Vitamin D levels. Bisphosphonates, which include well-publicized brand-names like Boniva and Fosamax, are not only expensive, but according to the Food and Drug Administration, are associated with side effects including severe and sometimes incapacitating bone, joint and/or muscle pain. Incredibly, last year the FDA even warned that long-term use of bisphosphonates may be linked to the occurrence of atypical thigh fractures.
In her article Vitamin D, calcium can help fight osteoporosis, Debra Pressey of the East Central Illinois News Gazette reports that recent University of Illinois studies show bisphosphonates may be far from necessary for most people. Instead, taking measures to increase dietary calcium, taking Vitamin D supplements, and making other healthy lifestyle changes will make the difference for most people when it comes to preventing bone loss. Simply increasing your intake of healthy, calcium-rich foods like nuts, tofu, broccoli, kale, kidney beans, chick peas, watercress, salmon, oranges and apricots can strengthen bones safely and significantly. Getting enough exercise and taking a Vitamin D supplement are also strongly recommended for bone health – and have nothing but positive side effects for your mind and body.