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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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July 2000

Q. My 79-year-old mother has osteoporosis, and is taking Fosomax. Should she be taking calcium with this? Also, is it necessary to take Vitamin D with the calcium? I have been told to take calcium with magnesium, myself.

A. Osteoporosis is a common problem, as you know. A major risk factor of osteoporosis is having a family member with this ailment, so your desire to take calcium with magnesium is a good idea since you are at high risk.

The major ways to help decrease your chances of osteoporosis are to get a lot of exercise, take calcium with vitamin D (or get a lot of sunlight), don't smoke, do not have excess alcohol, and take hormone replacement therapy (estrogen) once in menopause. The importance of magnesium is less clear, with many people recommending magnesium, but many do not considered it to be as critical as the calcium and vitamin D. On the other hand, there's little evidence that magnesium would be harmful.

Treatment of osteoporosis, once it is present, includes the same elements as for prevention, with the possible additional medication, like Fosfomax. Taking the Fosfomax with the calcium would be a good idea.

To find out more information about osteoporosis, you can look at the National Osteoporosis Foundation's Web page: http://www.nof.org/ and the American College of Rheumatology's fact sheet on osteoporosis: http://www.rheumatology.org/patients/factsheet/osteopor.html

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