Definition: Osteoporosis literally means porous bone. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Any bone can be affected, but of special concern are fractures of the hip and spine. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.

Normally during a period of life the body can build and break bone in an appropriate rate. The building rate is higher than the breaking rate during growing age and fades its role down while the breaking rate gradually speeds its role up when no more growth needed. The critical years for building bone mass are from prior to adolescence to about age 30. The decline of bone mass certainly noted after 40 in both sexes. This bone loss is accelerated in patients with osteoporosis. Many factors can lead to excessive bone loss, and different variants of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal osteoporosis in women is the most common form of osteoporosis.

More than one third of women will sustain a fracture due to osteoporosis at some stage of their lives and the consequences can result in a long period of disability. In women, bone loss accelerates after menopause, when your ovaries stop producing estrogen - the hormone that can protect against bone loss.

Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including:


Bone Mineral Density tests

A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. Since osteoporosis can develop undetected for decades until a fracture occurs, early diagnosis is important.

A BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a special type of test that is accurate, painless and noninvasive.



Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse.

Collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis or stooped posture.



Building strong bones, especially before the age of 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.

To prevent osteoporosis:





  1. Bunker VW. The role of nutrition in osteoporosis. Br J Biomed Sci 1994; 51(3): 228-40.
  2. Buckley L. M., et.al. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation prevents bone loss in the spine secondary to low-dose corticosteroids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med, 1996 Dec 15; 125(12):961-8.
  3. Murray M T. Osteoporosis. In: Encyclopedia of nutritional supplements: the essential guide for improving your health naturally. Prima Health, USA, 1996.
  4. Murray M T. Calcium. In: Encyclopedia of nutritional supplements: the essential guide for improving your health naturally. Prima Health, USA, 1996.
  5. Potter SM, et al. Soy protein and isoflavones: their effects on blood lipids and bone density in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, 68(6 Suppl):1375S-1379S 1998 Dec.
  6. Arjmandi BH., et.al. Dietary soybean protein prevents bone loss in an ovariectomized rat model of osteoporosis. J Nutr, 126(1): 161-7 1996 Jan.
  7. Hudson T. Osteoporosis. In: Women’s encyclopedia of natural medicine: alternative therapies and integrative medicine. Keats Publishing, Los Angeles, 1999.
  8. Prestwood K. M., et.al. The effect of a short course of calcium and vitamin D on bone turnover in older women. Osteoporos Int, 1996; 6(4):314-9.
  9. Head KA. Ipriflavone: an important bone-building isoflavone. Altern Med Rev, 4(1):10-22 1999 Feb.
  10. Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M, et al. Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food?. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2001; 41(4): 251-86.
  11. Volpe SL, Taper LJ and Meacham S. The relationship between boron and magnesium status and bone mineral density in the human: a review. Magnes Res 1993; 6 (3): 291-6.
  12. Arjmandi BH, Khalil DA and Hollis BW. Ipriflavone, a synthetic phytoestrogen, enhances intestinal calcium transport in vitro. Calcif Tissue Int 2000; 67(3): 225-9.
  13. Szulc P and Meunier PJ Is vitamin K deficiency a risk factor for osteoporosis in Crohn's disease? Lancet 2001; 357(9273): 1995-6.
  14. Kass-Annese B. Alternative therapies for menopause. Clin Obstet Gynecol 2000; 43 (1): 162-83.