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Drug + Calcium = Strong Bones

Osteoporosis affects millions of women in this country and around the world. It can lead to poor posture and far worse things like fractures of the hip and spine.

But the largest study to date reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the drug raloxifene reduces the risk of fracture of the spine by up to 50 percent in older women with osteoporosis, reports CBS This Morning Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

Osteoporosis is a disease that hits after menopause when estrogen levels have declined. Raloxifene mimics the bone-strengthening effects of estrogen but does it without some of its harmful side effects.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association study, participants also took calcium and vitamin D supplements. Some experts say that without those, raloxifene may not work as well.

But despite the fact that the need for enough calcium in the diet has been well-publicized, half of all American women still are not getting enough.

Generally women should be trying to hit the ranges shown in the following chart:

11 to 251,200-1,500 milligrams
25 to menopause1,000-1,200 mgs
After menopause1,200-1,500 mgs

It is not easy for a woman to get enough calcium by diet alone, however. For example, a woman would have to eat more than she would probably want to of high-calcium foods like yogurt, milk and cheese to reach 1,500 milligrams.

And other sources like broccoli or oranges are high enough in calcium to contribute the required amount in a daily serving.

So supplements are a way to make up the difference.

Calcium carbonate is usually the best supplement to take after meals because it's easily absorbed. Vitamin D supplements, along with calcium, can also help your body absorb it. Many calcium supplements come with vitamin D for that reason.

For more information visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation Web site.

To read about the study, visit the site of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.

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