Calcium and vitamin D: A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Besides low-fat dairy products, good sources of calcium include dark green, leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Many low-fat and low-sugar sources of calcium are available. Also, supplements can help people with lactose intolerance meet their daily requirements of calcium and other important nutrients. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg (milligrams) for men and women, increasing to 1,200 mg for those age 50 and older.
Studies have shown that people who have at least some intestinal lactase can increase their tolerance to lactose by gradually introducing dairy products into the diet. These people can often eat small portions of dairy products without developing symptoms. The key for them is to consume small amounts of dairy products at a time so that there is enough lactase available in the intestine to digest the lactose. When the lactose is fully digested, symptoms do not develop.
Also, certain sources of dairy products may be easier for people with lactose intolerance to digest. For example, ripened cheese may contain up to 95 percent less lactose than whole milk. Yogurt containing active cultures also lessens gastrointestinal symptoms. A variety of lactose-reduced dairy products, including milk, cottage cheese, and processed cheese slices, are also available. Lactose replacement pills and liquid are also available to help with the digestion of dairy products.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fish oil, saltwater fish, liver, fortified margarine, and breakfast cereals. Many people obtain enough vitamin D by getting about 15 minutes of sunlight each day; others, especially those who are older or housebound, may need vitamin D supplements to achieve the recommended intake of 400 to 600 IU (International Units) each day.
Exercise: Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best activity for your bones is weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity. Some examples include walking, climbing stairs, weight training, and dancing. Regular exercise, such as walking, may help prevent bone loss and, by enhancing balance and flexibility, can reduce the likelihood of falling and breaking a bone.
Healthy lifestyle: Smoking is bad for bones as well as the heart and lungs. Women who smoke tend to go through menopause earlier, which triggers earlier bone loss. In addition, smokers may absorb less calcium from their diets. Alcohol also can have a negative effect on bone health. Those who drink heavily are more prone to bone loss and fracture because of both poor nutrition and increased risk of falling.
Bone density testing: A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures bone density in various parts of the body. This safe and painless test can detect osteoporosis before a bone fracture occurs and can predict one’s chances of fracturing in the future. People with lactose intolerance should talk to their doctors about whether they might be candidates for a BMD test, which can help determine whether medication should be considered.
Medication: Like lactose intolerance, osteoporosis has no cure. However, several medications are available for the prevention and/or treatment of the disease, including: bisphosphonates; estrogen agonists/antagonists (also called selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMS); parathyroid hormo...
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