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Q.

A friend told me that weight loss can rob the bones of density. Is that true?

 

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A.

Weight loss can increase the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Because of concerns about heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems linked to obesity and excess weight, people are generally urged to lose the extra pounds. The benefits of weight loss usually are greater than the risks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your bones while losing weight.

  • Exercise regularly. Include both weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to help support your bone health. For people trying to lose weight, it is best to lose the weight gradually and to exercise regularly as part of a weight loss program. Exercise not only helps you lose weight, but it helps maintain bone density too.
  • Be sure to eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and calcium-rich foods will help you meet your nutrition needs. It is especially important to get enough calcium and vitamin D. While protein is important for health, a very high protein diet causes an additional loss of calcium through the kidneys. Getting an adequate amount of calcium will offset these losses.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Remember that both smoking and drinking too much alcohol are harmful to the bones. To keep your bones healthy, don’t drink more than two - three alcoholic drinks a day. Also, inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle can cause bone loss.
  • Find out which weight loss program is right for you. Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider before you start to diet. Ask for guidance on a weight loss diet that is appropriate for you.
  • Set a realistic target weight. People with low body weight are at greater risk for osteoporosis, so aim for a moderate goal. In older women and men, some studies have shown that a weight loss of 10 percent or more also places them at greater risk for breaking a hip.
  • Ask if you need a bone density test. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether a bone density test should be done before you start and/or during your weight loss program. It will help you find out if an osteoporosis medication should be considered to support bone health during and/or after your diet.

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