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Celiac Disease and Osteoporosis

Celiac Disease and Osteoporosis: Maintaining Bone Health

People with celiac disease who have successfully adopted a gluten-free diet also need to follow the same basic strategies for bone health suggested for people who don't have the disease. These strategies include:
  • Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D
  • Performing weight-bearing exercise
  • Not smoking
  • Avoiding excessive use of alcohol
  • Taking an osteoporosis treatment medication (if necessary).
A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products; dark green, leafy vegetables; and calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Also, supplements can help ensure that the calcium requirement is met each day.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. While many people are able to obtain enough vitamin D by getting about 15 minutes of sunlight exposure each day, others -- especially those who are older or housebound, live in northern climates, and use sunscreen -- may be deficient in this vitamin. They may need vitamin D supplements to ensure an adequate daily intake.
Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for bones is weight-bearing exercise that forces one to work against gravity. Some examples include:
  • Walking
  • Stair-climbing
  • Dancing
  • Weight training.
These and other types of exercise also strengthen muscles that support bone, enhance balance and flexibility, and preserve joint mobility, all of which help reduce the likelihood of falling and breaking a bone, especially among older people.
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