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Osteopenia (cont.)

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Is there a recommended diet for people with osteopenia?

A diet containing sufficient calcium and vitamin D, as detailed above, is key for people with osteopenia. Low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens, and salmon and sardines are some good sources of dietary calcium.

In addition, studies have shown that higher fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with improved bone density.

Minimizing drinking alcohol and not smoking are essential for people with osteopenia. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages daily is associated with decreased bone density. Smoking reduces bone density. Stopping smoking, of course, improves health in many different ways.

What follow-up is needed after treatment of osteopenia has been initiated?

Often osteopenia does not require treatment with prescription medications. In this situation, the bone density test may be repeated to monitor the bone mineral density (BMD), usually after two years, to detect progressive bone loss and determine if treatment is necessary. Two years may seem like a long time between tests, but BMD changes very slowly, and this length of time is usually necessary to detect significant changes in bone density.

A follow-up test for BMD is frequently repeated after treatment with prescription medication for osteopenia is begun. Again, because changes in BMD occur slowly, the repeat testing is usually done several years after treatment is begun. However, follow-up testing while on treatment is controversial because

  • decrease in the risk for fracture while on treatment for osteopenia and osteoporosis is not always mirrored by an increase in BMD on DXA or other testing
  • and if repeat testing shows continued bone loss, this does not mean the medication is not working because it is also likely the bone loss would have been much worse if left untreated.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/31/2017


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