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What Can My Grandma Do About Her Extremely Low Bone Density?

By July 13, 2009 - 9:51am
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I called my Grandma, whom I call Nana, yesterday and found out she had her annual bone density test. She told me she has learned she is in the bottom half of 1% out of a possible 100. She knows this low number is caused mainly by the steroids she has been taking for nearly 30 years for asthma, but I'm wondering what she can do about this now.

She has already had what she called a fusion, which she now has to have done once per year, but with a bone density so low she has to be extremely careful about everything she does.

She wanted to buy a bike and is now afraid she will fall off and break a bunch of bones. She also had to cancel the personal trainer she just started seeing because her doctor said she is not allowed to lift more than 5 pounds.

Additionally, her bone density is lowest in her back and hips.

Is there any way she can increase her bone density? At this point, even the littlest increase would be helpful.

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Please clarify that all Calcium supplements are not created equal. Calcium carbonate (the standard found in Tums an other brands) actually contributes to bone brittleness. Calcium citrate, calcium chelate and calcium gluconate are better supplements for improving bone density, as long as the individual takes these forms in conjunction with magnesium which is thought to play an ever great role in bone health than calcium. Vitamin K is also required supplement.

November 11, 2009 - 10:55am
HERWriter Guide (reply to eres)

Hi Eres - Thanks for writing and providing this information on calcium supplements. I'd also like to share the following article on the same topic:
Take good care,

November 11, 2009 - 5:21pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

Very nice article. Thank you so much for the referral.

November 12, 2009 - 3:23pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Shannon

There are lots of ways to increase bone density - one is by increasing calcium intake. I wrote a article on this a long time ago for Empowher:

Susan Cody: Women and Calcium -- What You Can Do To Build Stronger Bones
March 28, 2008 - 7:45am

"Nearly 80 percent of the people who suffer from Osteoporosis are women!

Calcium will not completely eliminate the risk but it helps - a lot. Each year, Americans suffer from 1.5 million fractures because of osteoporosis.

Here is what we can do -
Have a bone density test done.

Eat calcium rich foods -
Think dairy - milk, cheese, yogurt. Keep it low fat if you can. If you are lactose intolerant, vegetarian/vegan or just don't like dairy, try Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli. Although most grains are not high in calcium (unless they have been fortified), they do contribute calcium to the diet because they are usually eaten frequently. There are many calcium-fortified foods now available, including fruit juices, breads, fruit drinks, tofu and cereals.

If you like fish then sardines and salmon are good choices.

Consider a calcium supplement and make sure it has Vitamin D added because this will aid with absorption.
Bone density can begin to lessen in our late 20s and 30s and post-menopausal women at at particular risk. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need to take care to make calcium intake a daily goal.

So getting plenty of calcium can help our bones stay healthy and it's never too late to help your body stay strong.

So pass the (low fat) milkshake!"

Shannon, exercise and weight are also good for bones. It doesn't have to be high impact cardio or bench pressing 300! A few light weights like some 2 or 3 pounders would be a great start.

A little daily sunshine is good too. The Vitamin D from the sun will help her body to absorb calcium.

I don't blame your grandmother for being nervous. Bone breakage in older people tends to bring with it some very long-lasting and debilitating problems but it's good to know that extra calcium and other methods the ones listed above, can help strengthen bones at any age.

There are also monthly pills out there like Boniva she can consider. There are side effects to most medications though so she can talk it through with her doctor and then decide whether a medication is right for her or not.

Low bone density in her back and hips is very common. Those areas and well as a couple of others like the wrist, are the most susceptible to low density.

I hope this helps your grandmother - I wish her the best!

July 13, 2009 - 11:40am
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