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Keeping Bones Strong: Q & A

Q & A with Dr. Tamara Rozental, orthopaedic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, about maintaining strong bones.

Q: What makes bones weak?

Dr. Rozenthal: Not enough  calcium and vitamin D in your diet will weaken your bones.  Smoking and drinking alcohol can also decrease bone density.

Q: Is it true that you gain all your bone strength by the time you're 18?

Dr. Rozental: By age 20, the average woman has acquired 90% of her skeletal mass. As part of a natural aging process your bone breaks down and rebuilds, so as you get older your bones breakdown faster than you make new bone. After  menopause the process is accelerated because estrogen protects against bone loss. When you're not producing as much estrogen bone loss is accelerated.

Q: Does diet play a role? What about vitamins?

Dr. Rozental: The key issue is calcium. You need calcium for your bones to be strong. You can get that from food - milk, yogurt & cheese, broccoli, dried figs. If you don't consume all the calcium you need from your diet you need to supplement. The recommend amount is 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day for adult men & women. Vitamin D is also important because it helps your body absorb the calcium.

Q: How might exercise help?

Dr. Rozental: Weight bearing exercise helps build bones - walking, running, dancing, soccer. Resistance exercise is also helpful - anything that uses muscular strength like weight lifting. Exercising 2-3 times per week is recommended. Avoiding smoking and minimizing alcohol is also beneficial.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted March 2011

Contact Information

Carl J. Shapiro Department of Orthopaedics
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-3940

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