Ralph Esposito, UB Student
While common in women, it is often overlooked that 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will develop it
Monday, May 6, 2013
by: Ralph Esposito, UB Student

Section: Healthy Aging

Ralph Esposito

Ralph is currently a naturopathic medical student at UBCNM. He graduated with honors from New York University with a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Food Studies. He has a passion for oncology, sports medicine, men's health and natural medicine research.
If you are a middle-aged woman it is likely your doctor has spoken to you about osteoporosis. What is often thought of as a female condition also impacts men as well. About one in two women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis but what is often overlooked is one in four men over the age of 50 will also develop the disease.

What exactly is osteoporosis?
Throughout our life our body normally creates bone and breaks its down in a process called bone resorption. Just like any other system, if this process is not maintained problems arise, and osteoporosis occurs when we degrade bone more than we build it. Your bones won’t necessarily feel weak but they will not be able to withstand many of the pressures they typically can which often leads to more bone fractures.
About one in two women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis but what is often overlooked is one in four men over the age of 50 will also develop the disease...

How do I know if I have it?
The most common test for osteoporosis is a bone density test (DEXA) - a type of x-ray that measures bone mineral density. Osteoporosis is when you have the lowest density. Osteopenia (Pre-osteoporosis) is when your bone density is low but not as low as osteoporosis. It may not be something you notice or feel, therefore it’s best to get a DEXA if you are at risk.
How do I fix osteoporosis?
There is no permanent cure to this silent disease, but there are many things an ND can do to prevent it from getting worse and prevent it from becoming an issue in the first place.
Diet & Supplements
The first thing that often comes to mind is calcium. Bones are made of calcium (calcium hydroxyapatite), and so it seems logical to consume more calcium in your diet. Don’t rush to the health food store yet. It is not best to just take calcium alone. In fact, taking calcium alone may lead to more problems. Several studies have shown that taking vitamin D3, calcium (citrate, chelated, or hydroxyapatite preferably) and vitamin K2 allows the most benefit is supporting bone health. You can find these in many foods listed at the end of the article.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the one thing most people are lacking. These healthy oils found in fish, flax, walnuts and other foods can help preserve bone density.
Excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol may contribute to bone loss. A cup of coffee won’t be an issue, but 3 or 4 cups daily may be a problem.
We all know the many other benefits of exercise, but one type of exercise especially helpful for increasing bone density is weight-bearing exercises. The weight puts pressure on your bones and stimulates them to grow. This doesn’t mean you need to hit the bench press, you can do some weight lifting exercises at home like push-ups, body squats, and lunges.
Although it seems really simple to prevent osteoporosis, it is a very common disease in our society. If you’re not at risk for osteoporosis, share this information with your mom, sister, dad, anyone. Osteoporosis prevention begins at a young age, so whether you’re 5 or 95, it is never too early to feed your bones!
Calcium-rich foods
  • Greens like collards, broccoli, cabbage, arugula.
  • Salmon
  • Dairy (Yogurt, milk, cheese)
  • Sardines
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
Vitamin D-rich foods
  • Sunshine!
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Dairy (Yogurt, milk, cheese)
Vitamin K-rich foods
  • Greens like kale, collards, broccoli, spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Prunes
  • Asparagus
Omega 3-rich foods
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Chia
  • Flax
  • Hemp
  • Walnuts

Weiss, L. a, Barrett-Connor, E., & Von Mühlen, D. (2005). Ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids and bone mineral density in older adults: the Rancho Bernardo Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(4), 934–8.

Iwamoto, J., Takeda, T., Ichimura, S. (2000). Effect of combined administration of Vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, on bone mineral density of the lumbar spine in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Journal of Orthapaedic Science, 5 (6), 546-551.
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