Scientists are finding that diabetes is a risk factor for fractures due to osteoporosis. In people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, this may be due to a lack of insulin, which may promote bone growth and strength. For people who have had type 1 longer, vascular complications may account for low bone mass and the increased risk of fractures. People with type 2 diabetes generally have higher bone density but are also more likely to be less active, another risk factor for osteoporosis. Pair all this with vision complications and nerve damage, and the risk of fractures increases for all people with diabetes.
There is no cure for osteoporosis but it can be prevented or treated through a proper diet, exercise, smoking cessation, controlled alcohol consumption, and, in some cases, medication. Calcium supplementation is a common preventive measure but it should not be taken lightly. When choosing your calcium supplement, consider the following:
• Experts recommend that adults get 1,000 to 1,200 mg (milligrams) of calcium each day, but the body best absorbs it at 500 mg or less at a time.
• Calcium supplements have the potential to interact with several prescription and over-the-counter medications, so take it as directed.
• Calcium works best in conjunction with vitamin D and magnesium, which promote absorption.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about tests to determine your bone density and the best treatment options for you.
1 – Osteoporosis in patients with diabetes mellitus. J Bone Miner Res. 2007 Sep;22(9):1317-28. (Accessed February 7, 2008)
2 – National Institutes of Health. What People with Diabetes Need to Know About Osteoporosis. (PDF accessed February 7, 2008)
3 – National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. (Accessed February 7, 2008)
4 – National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases. Nutrition and Bone Health. (PDF accessed February 7, 2008)
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08