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Michaela Calderon
Foundations of Nutrition 1020

Osteoporosis is a disease within the bones that occurs when there is not enough structural
support from the bones to support movements. (National Osteoporosis Foundation) Because of
the bones being weak, they are brittle and more likely to break in cases of falls or injuries. In
more serious cases, things as small as a bump may cause a bone to break.

Osteoporosis translates to porous bone.(National Osteoporosis Foundation) Because of

this translation, we can conclude that a bone affected by osteoporosis will have large holes in it.
Because of these large holes, the bone becomes less dense and therefore less durable, causing it
to be more likely to break.

Paul Mystkowski, an endocrinologist from Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle said
that most commonly in women, the cause of osteoporosis is a deficiency in estrogen. (Taylor, 2)
After menopause, bone loss and deterioration accelerate due to the sudden drop in estrogen
levels after menopause. (Taylor, 2) In men, a deficiency of testosterone, which is used to make
estrogen for the bone, can cause osteoporosis. There are other hormones involved in the
regulating bone density. Some of these hormones are parathyroid hormone, growth hormone,
calcitonin and calcitriol. (Kimball) Any imbalances in these hormones can also have an effect on
the chances of someone getting osteoporosis. Aside from not having enough hormones, some can
get osteoporosis from having hormones that are too abundant. Hyperparathyroidism is having too

much of the parathyroid hormone, which causes extra calcium loss via urine, taking the hormone
(and the useful calcium) away from the bone. (Taylor, 2)

Another cause of osteoporosis is a lack of calcium. Calcium is necessary in the process of

remodeling bones, and without it the body cannot produce dense bone. (Taylor, 2) Bone acts as a
storage unit for calcium and phosphorus. Many organs including the heart, muscles and nerves
depend on the calcium stored in the bone and in the blood. When there is not enough calcium in
the bone to support the other organs, it begins to deteriorate in order to give the other organs
what is in demand. (Taylor, 2) Because of this, over a period of time, the bones will become
weak and brittle.

People who live sedentary lifestyles are also more likely to get osteoporosis. This affects
those who suffer from other diseases like muscular dystrophy or paralysis, and those who are
considered couch potatoes and dont get much exercise. Weight-bearing exercises can prevent
this, as it puts a light amount of stress on the bones that helps when it comes time for the bone to
remodel itself. (Taylor, 3)

Smoking cigarettes can also cause osteoporosis. Smokers generally tend to have lower
bone densities than of those who do not smoke. Smoking affects bone health from the nicotine in
cigarettes. The toxicity from the nicotine affects the cells of the bone. It also blocks the bodys
ability to access and use the estrogen, calcium and vitamin D that is stored within the bone.

Other causes of osteoporosis are medical conditions a patient had prior. Conditions such
as cystic fibrosis and multiple myeloma, and other genetic or digestive diseases can play a role in

osteoporosis. Some bodies function improperly, causing excess excretion of calcium, leading to
the deterioration and eventually the loss of bone. (Mystkowski/Taylor, 3)

Although not all causes of osteoporosis are preventable, most causes of osteoporosis are.
Refraining from activities like drinking and smoking will lower ones risk of getting osteoporosis
later on in life. Children and teenagers should be getting an hour of exercise every day to support
healthy bones. Some activities include running, biking, jump roping and the like. Adults should
get at least thirty minutes of exercise daily. Some activities include walking, running and stair
climbing. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) Getting enough exercise is very
crucial when it comes to preventing osteoporosis. Alongside refraining from those activities,
eating a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D can help with osteoporosis prevention. Foods
that are high in calcium include milk, leafy green vegetables, soybeans, yogurt, cheese, and
fortified orange juice. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) Vitamin D is produced
naturally in the body when exposed to sunlight, but can also be found in fortified foods. (U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services) Some people may not be getting all the calcium and
vitamin D they need from their food alone, and turn to using supplements. Supplements are a
good way to add more nutrients to ones diet if they are lacking it from their natural production
and their diet.

Because osteoporosis causes more susceptibility to broken or fractured bones, one

complication many people who suffer from osteoporosis face is having limited mobility. Not
being physically active can cause people to gain weight which can trigger a whole new set of
health problems, including things like joint problems, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
(Morrison) Physical activity raises endorphin levels, and with a decrease or stop of exercise,

endorphin levels can drop, causing the mental disorder depression. Depression can bring new
health problems along with it including headaches, fatigue and loss of appetite. (Morrison)

Fractures and breaks caused by osteoporosis can also cause a lot of physical pain for a
person. When they have these fractures or breaks happen, all small movements hurt, causing one
to become almost immobile. Along with fractures and breaks come the hospital visits, and
eventually admission to a nursing home.

Treatment options for osteoporosis include medications and lifestyle changes. (Kennel)
Lifestyle changes include a change in ones diet, making sure the foods eaten are rich in calcium
and vitamin D, and making sure that they are getting enough exercise to promote bone health.

Bisphosphonates are the most common type of medication used to treat osteoporosis.
(Kennel) Some examples of bisphosphonates include Alendronate, Risedronate, Ibandronate, and
Zoledronic Acid. Along with bisphosphonates, hormone medications have been used to help with
estrogen replacement. This has become a less popular choice among women because estrogen
replacing medications increase risk of heart attacks and certain types of cancer. (Kennel)
Denosumab is a medication for those who cannot take bisphosphanates. Typically, these are
people who have malfunctions within the kidneys. (Kennel) None of these medications are
proven to reverse osteoporosis and promote new bone to form. Teriparatide is the only
medicine that, does not guarantee, but has the potential to reverse osteoporosis and help build up

All osteoporosis treatment medications, excluding teriparatide, do not reverse the act of
the bones deteriorating, as it is not completely curable, these medications work as a brake

system, to slow down the process of bone loss as it is normal to lose bone density as people age.

As previously stated, exercise is extremely crucial in the prevention and treatment of

osteoporosis. Exercise is not only beneficial for muscle and endurance; it is beneficial to the
density and the mass of the bones in the body. The three best types of exercise for treating or
preventing osteoporosis are weight-bearing exercises, resistance exercises and flexibility
exercises. (Gerace)
Weight-bearing exercises are described as exercises where someone supports their own
weight with their legs and feet. Some examples of this that are good for osteoporosis are things
like walking, running, hiking, stair climbers, etc. Things like biking are not good examples of
weight-bearing activities even though it is often confused for it. Many people think that riding a
bicycle is weight-bearing because you use your legs to push the pedals, but the does not take
away from the fact that the bicycle is what is holding the majority of the persons weight.
Generally, most experts recommended that everyone walks between three to five miles each
week, or get a minimum of thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day, five out of
the seven days each week. (Gerace)
Resistance exercise is described as working against the weight of another object or
person. (Gerace) This helps with osteoporosis because it helps to build up the bone against
pressure. Resistance exercises increase bone mass and reduce the risk of fractures or breaks.
Some examples of resistance training are things like using free weights (dumbbells) or weight
machines, and water exercises. Water exercises are wonderful resistance training because every
movement made in the water is pushing against the water; therefore every move is helping to

build the bone mass and muscle. It is typically recommended to do resistance exercises two to
three times a week. Gradually adding repetitions or weight can also help with building muscle. It
is also important to let muscle groups have a resting period. (Gerace) For example, if someone
were to work out their arms on Friday, they are not going to want to repeat that work out on
Saturday. This can cause stress on the muscles and the bones, therefore they will decide to work
out their legs on Saturday.
Flexibility exercises are also very important in the treatment and prevention of
osteoporosis. Increasing flexibility and coordination can reduce the risk of injury while
exercising and the risk of falls. Things like regularly stretching and doing yoga are examples of
flexibility exercises. Yoga is a great work out because it combines strengthening, stretching,
breathing, meditation and relaxation. Within yoga, there are different forms, depending on the
type of exercise one wants and skill level. Some forms of yoga are Hatha, Vinyasa, Power,
Ashtanga, Bikram, and Iyenger. The most commonly practiced form of yoga is hatha. (Watson)
Yoga can help with mental problems too. As earlier discussed, osteoporosis can cause depression
to come onto someone. Yoga contains breathing and meditation exercises with can raise
endorphins and help to manage stress.
As previously stated, osteoporosis is a disease within the bones that causes holes to form
and makes the bone weak and brittle due to the lack of nutrients needed to build up bone mass.
Osteoporosis is almost always preventable. With adequate exercise that promotes bone to build,
and a diet that is abundant in calcium and vitamin D, osteoporosis is not likely to become part of
a persons life. Activities like smoking and consuming alcohol can increase the chance of
osteoporosis, as the ingredients and chemicals in these things can block bone from building more
mass. Osteoporosis is not curable but it is treatable. Lifestyle changes and medications are the

best forms of treatment. Healthy diet and exercise can help with slowing down the process of
osteoporosis, and bisphosphonates are medications that help with slowing it down as well.
Osteoporosis mostly affects elderly people, but that does not mean that young people are not at
risk. Keeping the diet and exercise habits stated in mind, osteoporosis can be prevented.

Works Cited

National Osteoporosis Foundation-

Rebecca Buffum Taylor-
John W. Kimball-
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-
William A. Morrison-

Kurt Kennel-
James E. Gerace-
Stephanie Watson-