How Osteoporosis Occurs 

As you age, more bone is broken down than is reformed, causing loss of density and strength. The rate of bone loss accelerates in women in the first five to seven years after menopause. Two important factors affect the development of osteoporosis: the peak bone mass you attain by about age 30, and the rate at which you lose bone in later years. No matter what your age, however, you can also lose bone mass as the result of certain medical conditions and medications. They can seriously affect the process of bone formation and cause or speed the development of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is known as the "silent thief"  because there are no early warning signs.  A bone fracture is often the first sign of the disease.  Osteoporosis is an often crippling, disabling and potentially life-threatening bone disease that can be prevented.  Approximately 25 million American women suffer from osteoporosis and it's potential pain and disfigurement.  Another one-third to one-half of post-menopausal women are at risk.  Eighty percent of those who have osteoporosis are women.  One out of every two women are at risk of developing fractures caused by osteoporosis.  Men are at risk, too.  In fact, 5 million American men suffer from osteoporosis.

There are several well known risk factors for osteoporosis.  Caucasian, Asian, fair-skinned and/or blond women are at a higher risk, as are petite or small-boned women.  Lactose intolerant women may be at higher risk and should be especially careful to obtain adequate calcium through other non-dairy sources.  A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for osteoporosis.  Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, weight lifting, and low-impact aerobics have been shown to increase bone strength and size.  Cigarette smoking, alcohol, and caffeine intake are also factors that may increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.  If you smoke, you should stop, limit your intake of alcoholic beverages, and drink no more than two cups of coffee or other beverages that contain caffeine each day.

Calcium supplements are one of the best life-long defenses against osteoporosis.  Calcium is primarily stored in your bones.  If you don't get enough calcium, your body must replenish the needed calcium in your blood and soft tissues by robbing it from your bones.  This slow process causes your bones to weaken and increase the potential for fractures.  The best way to get adequate calcium is to eat lots of calcium-rich food. However, getting enough calcium in your diet may be harder than you think and you may need to add a quality calcium supplement to your diet.

Throughout your life cycle you have different calcium needs. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following daily calcium intakes:

1,000 mg for adult men and women; 

1,200 mg for young people 11-24 years old and pregnant and lactating women;

1,500 mg for post-menopausal women who are not on estrogen replacement therapy. 

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How osteopororsis works in relation to calcium.