by Christina Lahiri, RN
Health and Wellness Director, Merlino Fitness

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease characterized by gradual deterioration of bone mass. Early stages of Osteoporosis is diagnosed as Osteopenia, meaning decreased amount or lack of bone tissue. Osteopenia, unfortunately, has no overt physical signs or symptoms, causing bone loss to go undetected until it has progressed to Osteoporosis, porosis derived from the word porous literally means holes in bones.

Some symptoms of Osteoporosis include brittle, fragile bones, increased susceptibility to fractures of hips, spine, wrist and other areas of the body.

Many times we mistakenly think our elderly fall easily from lack of coordination and balance due to old age, causing hip fractures. The fact is, that the hips are already fractured from Osteoporosis which causes the fall.

An accurate test to measure bone loss and diagnose Osteoporosis is a Bone Mineral Density Test (BMD).

How does the BMD work?

The patient lies on a x-ray table while a scanner above moves over the entire body taking pictures of the spinal column and hips. A small amount of radiation will be emitted so alert the technician if any chance of pregnancy. The entire test takes less than 20 minutes.

Results are then reported by the average bone mass of a young adult called a T-score.

BMD is within +1 or –1 standard deviation (SD) of the young adult mean.

Osteopenia (low bone mass):
BMD is between -1 and –2.5 SD below the young adult mean.

BMD is –2.5 SD or more than the young adult mean.

Severe or established Osteoporosis:
BMD is greater than –2.5 SD and osteoporotic fractures have occurred.



1. What are some of the causes of Osteoporosis?

The most common reason is being a Caucasian or Asian female at menopause. However, men and African American females are also susceptible, only to a lesser degree.
There are many other causes contributing to the disease such as but not limited to:

a) eating disorders such as anorexia and bulemia
b) thyroid disease
c) inactive lifestyle
d) alcohol abuse
e) underweight and small body frame
f) lack of calcium in diet
g) excessive caffeine intake
h) smoking
i) lack of vitamin D whether through diet or sunlight. One of the reasons why there are more cases of Osteoporosis in winter states than tropical climates.

2. Why would eating disorders contribute to osteoporosis?

The nutrients we put in to our bodies are quickly absorbed and turned into energy. When we deplete the body of adequate nutrition, our bodies go into survival mode and turn to itself for energy, using vitamins and minerals stored in our muscles and bones. This depletion causes loss of bone mass as well as numerous other problems such as heart disease, diabetes, electrolyte imbalances and much more.

3. I am very good about eating a healthy, balanced diet, but I do smoke regularly. Will this
have any effect on my bones since I am putting good nutrition into practice?

It’s great that you have a healthy diet since that is a requirement for good bones. Unfortunately this
is not enough if your body is unable to adequately absorb it. Smoking constricts many of your peripheral blood vessels and capillaries that are important in nutrition absorption and filtration. Your blood via your liver is also a filter for your body. If our natural mode of absorption and filtration are clogged up, a good percentage of your nutrition will be unable to get to your bones and will be wasted.

4. I am a 58-year-old woman on hormone replacement therapy for menopause. The HRT
really helps me, however my doctor just told me I have early stages of Osteoporosis. Is there anything else I can do to ensure strong bones?

Yes, there certainly is! You are a prime example why early detection is so important. The following simple lifestyle changes will help you.
a) Increase your exercise, especially weight bearing exercise, which will actually lay down new bone growth and strengthen your bones.
b) If you smoke, get help in stopping altogether.
c) Limit alcohol consumption.
d) Increase calcium in your diet as well as extra supplements.

Your doctor may prescribe medication along with the above suggestions, but since you are still in the early stages, you can prevent taking medication by fine tuning a few simple things in your life!


Currently, Christina is employed as a triage/nurse educator in Houston, Texas for one of nine physicians specializing in OB/Gyn. She is also the new Health and Wellness director for Merlino Fitness and will be writing articles on general health and wellness and women's health. Christina can be reached in Houston at 713.523.2577 or e-mail her at christina@merlinofitness.com.

View Christina's Bio

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