Low bone mass that is not low enough to be osteoporosis is sometimes called osteopenia. Causes of low bone mass include family history, not developing good bone mass when you are young, and certain conditions or medicines. Not everyone who has low bone mass gets osteoporosis. But everyone with low bone mass is at higher risk for getting it. (MedlinePlus) It is important to screen for osteopenia so, as your health care providers, we can better predict your chance of developing osteoporosis in the future. As osteopenia is not a disease, there is no treatment. However, there are ways to protect your bones and prevent development of osteoporosis
- Adequate calcium intake: You need about 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day. You can obtain this amount by a healthy diet and a handout (see link) indicating the amount of calcium in different foods. To get the total recommended amount you may need to supplement with a vitamin. There are many different formulation of calcium available. Always read the ingredient section to determine the exact amount of calcium per pill. If you are on a medication to decrease acid production in your stomach, then calcium citrate is the ideal supplement. If you are on thyroid medication separate taking calcium supplements by more than four hours.
- Adequate vitamin D: You need about 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Sunlight is the most natural way of getting vitamin D but difficult in our climate. Supplementation with a vitamin is the safest and easiest way to get and adequate amount. To decrease the total amount of pills, the best option is to take a vitamin with both calcium and vitamin D
- Regular exercise: Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, elliptical training or running, as well as muscle-strengthening exercises increase bone density.
- Things to avoid: Heavy caffeine and alcohol intake and smoking.