More Reasons To Get Your Calcium & Vitamin D

November 11, 2008

There was an interesting article in the New York Times last week about problems with a type of hip replacement called hip resurfacing  which was just approved by the FDA a few years ago. . Hip resurfacing (basically a total hip replacement designed to preserve more bone by cutting the bone up higher on the neck of the femur rather than below the ball- you don’t really wanna know, it’s basically carpentry) but hip resurfacing has become more common and is sometimes recommended for younger, more active hip replacement patients.
But research has recently shown that there is a high rate of failure with the procedure when it’s done on middle aged women. Guess what that means? The integrity of women’s bones diminishes as we approach and pass through menopause so their hips fracture or the cup slips due to lack of bone integrity.
Also my friend Karen who is battling breast cancer was recently getting a bone density screening for her upcoming round of radiation.
She thought for sure that at age 47 and having been an excellent, life-long “weight-bearer”-meaning that she has always exercised by running- this is a major factor on bones remaining strong. Anyone who has ever had a cast on their leg for months can see how a limb shrivels if it does not bear weight.
Anyway, she was shocked to learn that she has borderline osteoporotis which is a thinning of the bone where the skeleton becomes less dense and is prone towards all kinds of problems like breakage, arthritis and pain.  Part of this is from her chemo regime but perhaps a calcium supplement could’ve avoided this extreme depletion of bone strength.

A further complication that women face is that females can only maintain or lose bone density as we age. That means you can never get it back.
Of course, there are a few Osteoporosis drugs that can build back some bone like Fosamax (Sally Field advertises for it) but they come with a long list of negative side effects, including  pain, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, hypertension etc. And a recent study has found that Fosamax – may actually be responsible for causing femur fractures. The warning label is enough to scare the most eager pill-popper.

What should we do? There are a few natural things we can incorporate into our lifestyle. We should be getting daily weight-bearing exercise. Also aim to get a half-hour of daily sunshine on our forearms for the Vitamin D, especially during the winter months. I like this assignment. It sounds like something that I could accomplish pleasurably if I sat down near the kitchen window with my lunch and the newspaper.
When I asked my doctor friend, Rosemarie,
what else  she recommends, she said this:
“All women over the age of thirty, particularly those who have had children (because developing skeletons rob your skeleton of calcium stores) should be on calcium daily!!!!”
Those four exclamations points are hers.
I know I said it last week, but have your Vitamin D level checked next time you get your physical.
For good measure, I take Viactiv, which is a chocolate chew that you can get at any drugstore.
Take two chews every day to get a 1000 milligrams but take them at least four hours apart since more than 500 milligrams cannot be absorbed at once. Or get the calcium fortified OJ, since Vitamin C aides in the absorption of calcium.
Little lifestyle changes you make today can have a serious impact on how  you hold up as senior citizens so start strengthening those bones today so they keep you upright for the duration.

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