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Can men get osteoporosis? I thought it just affected women.

"Ask the Experts" at East Jefferson General Hospital [Web Exclusive Content]

Throughout life, bone density is affected by heredity, diet, sex hormones, physical activity, lifestyle choices, and the use of certain medications. Men have larger, stronger bones than women, which explains, in part, why osteoporosis affects fewer men than women. However, in the last few years the problem of osteoporosis in men has been recognized as an important public health issue. About 99 percent of the body's calcium is stored in bones and teeth. Bone is continually being broken down and rebuilt. When dietary intake of calcium can't meet the body's needs, the body draws the mineral from bones to allow a constant bloodstream supply. Ultimately, the breakdown process can exceed deposits, causing a possible reduction in bone mass and density.

There are a few, important steps to take to help prevent osteoporosis. Getting enough calcium is very important. Adults 19 - 50 years old need 1,000 mg of calcium every day; those over 50 need 1,200 mg. The best way to get enough calcium is through your diet. Buy fortified orange juice and cereals, and eat lots of green leafy vegetables and low-fat dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt. You should also get enough vitamin D. If you spend 10-15 minutes outside in the sun each day, your body should make enough vitamin D on its own. It's also important to do regular weight-bearing exercise to strengthen your bones, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, weight training and dancing.

For more information contact sports and lifestyle nutritionist Julie Fortenberry, LDN, RD, at 504.457.3100 at The Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital, or go to HYPERLINK "http://www.ejgh.org/thefitnessprinciple"www.ejgh.org/thefitnessprinciple.

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