The Costco Connection
A variety of treadmills, footwear, gloves and
clothing appropriate for winter or summer
outdoor exercise, as well as bottled water,
water filters and sunscreen, are available in
Costco warehouses and at Costco.com.
By Joseph Hanna
IF YOU THINK that being not yet 50 years old
makes you immune to osteoporosis, think
again. Osteoporosis can happen at any age, and
its characteristics warrant the moniker the
“silent thief”: It slowly saps bones of their
strength until they break. Currently, 10 million
people in the United States have osteoporosis,
and 18 million more are at
risk of developing the disease. Another 34 million
Americans are at risk of
osteopenia, or low bone
mass, which can lead to
fractures and other complications. Osteoporosis
affects a quarter of women
and an eighth of men 50 or older, but prevention needs to begin much sooner since both
genders begin to lose bone in their mid-30s.
What should I know about
risk factors for osteoporosis?
Unfortunately, for most people the first
symptom that alerts them to the fact that they
might have osteoporosis is a broken bone or
fracture, so the best cure is indeed prevention.
There are several risk factors for fractures,
including being 65 or older; smoking; consistent alcohol consumption of more than two
drinks per day; low calcium intake; some medications, such as corticosteroids; some medical
conditions, such as low body weight (less than
132 pounds); low testosterone levels in men;
early menopause (before age 45); celiac disease;
and rheumatoid arthritis. Each factor contributes an additive risk. The World Health
Organization has developed an online tool that
can calculate your risk of suffering a fracture in
the next 10 years at shef.ac.uk/FRAX. You can
also download the app from this site.
How can I improve my bone health?
Since some of the risk factors listed are
within your control, make lifestyle changes
that eliminate smoking; reduce sodium, caffeine and alcohol; and increase physical activity, fruits, vegetables and dietary calcium and
vitamin D. Weight-bearing exercises stimu-
late the building of new bone, while calcium
constitutes the building blocks of this new
bone, and vitamin D in turn helps the body
absorb and retain the calcium.
Can I get too much calcium
and vitamin D?
The short answer is yes. Too much calcium has been linked to several side effects,
including heart problems. It is important to
take only the recommended amount of both
and to use supplements when the right total
daily intake can’t be achieved with diet alone.
For adults age 19 to 50, the typical daily recommendation is 1000 mg of calcium and 400
to 1000 IU of vitamin D; for those older than
50, the daily recommendation is 1200 mg of
calcium and 800 to 2000 IU of vitamin D to
What if I already have osteoporosis?
While the daily recommended 1200 mg of
calcium and 800 to 2000 IU of vitamin D will
not stop the bone loss at this stage, they will
help to rebuild your bones in conjunction with
prescription medications that have halted the
deterioration. One or a combination of medications in four main classes may be prescribed
over a number of years to restore your bones.
How can I get more information?
Costco pharmacies frequently hold free
osteoporosis screenings. Your Costco pharmacist can review information on this topic
with you, answer questions you may have and
give you advice about any necessary next
steps. Check your local Costco pharmacy for
clinic times and dates, or visit Costco.com
and search “health fairs” for the schedule of
screenings near you. C
Joseph Hanna, B.Sc. Phm., CDE, CGP, is a
Costco Pharmacy professional services manager.
The Costco Connection
Supplements, weights and more are
available at Costco and on Costco.com.