My mom had hip surgery and suffice it to say things have not gone quite as expected.
She has pretty bad osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. She had one hip done 10 years ago when she was 69 and the other one on December 23rd. Eight days after the surgery her femur shattered. Yeah, it’s not a medical term, but that’s what the orthopedic surgeon said. Both the greater and lesser trochanter broke as well as the shaft of the femur. Apparently it took an “intricate system of wires and screws” to get back together. So, shattered it is.
In getting informed about my mom’s first surgery and about her new slightly altered prognosis given the 2nd surgery and the bitch of a fracture, I was asked the following question three times by three different orthopedic surgeons:
“And are you taking your calcium and vitamin D?”
Me: “Uh, no.”
Orthopod chorus: “And why not, young lady.”
Me: “Uh, um. Well, I bought some…once and, uh, well, I think they are sitting in the spice drawer, although it is quite
possible probable that they are, like, uh, expired.”
Orthopod chorus: “Do you want to end up like your mom?”
Okay, there are SO MANY ways that I don’t want to end up like my mom, but pretty close to the top of my list is having a fractured femur described as “shattered and needing an intricate system of wires and screws at the age of 79.”
So I looked it up.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) I need 1,000 mg of elemental calcium a day (I’m 45) and when I hit 50 I’ll need 1,200. I shouldn’t take more than 2,000 mg a day. Only 500 mg of elemental calcium can be absorbed at a time, so I can’t take it all at once (damn). I can get it from my diet or as a supplement. Dairy is the best dietary source, but salmon, tofu, and sardines are also good sources. I like salmon and sardines, but don’t eat too much of those. I do, however, eat a fair bit of dairy.
Other calcium pointers:
Some antibiotics affect absorption (like tetracycline), so check with your pharmacist about any medications if you are taking calcium as you might need to space out your pills. There are three forms of calcium supplements: calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate, which should be taken with food, and calcium citrate which can be taken any time.
The IOM (and the orthopedic chorus) also recommend vitamin D. As I have a sunscreen obsession (and have low vitamin D, sigh, I know, I am non compliant, or was!) I really need my D too. There is a lot of controversy over optimal vitamin D levels. I’m taking 2,000 IU (international units) a day now because I’m deficient then I’ll probably back down to 800 IU a day, although by then there were probably be 10 more contradictory vitamin D studies to confuse me even more. I’m just doing the best with the information that seems most evidence based.
My diet stacks up pretty good: I eat 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt or at least 8 ounces of 1% milk every day, so I’m probably getting a minimum of 400 mg a day of calcium from my diet, but that still leaves me at least another 600 mg short. I pretty much abandoned cheese to lose weight (it was an unhealthy relationship), and I will try to eat more salmon but I’m going to add in a supplement.
What to know how your food stacks up for calcium? Check out this link. (it’s a .gov site so you know you’re getting good info)