• Dr. Shank Pak at Crowell Library

    by Winston Chua

    SAN GABRIEL – When SanGabriel doctor Shane S. Pak shares stories about osteoporosis, it hits close tohome. His very mother has osteoporosis. The San Gabriel Valley Medical Centerdoctor spoke recently at the Crowell Library in San Marino as part of a monthlyseries the hospital is featuring on all things related to health and wellness.

    In an interview with the Tribune, Pak said that “Asianand Caucasian women are most susceptible to osteoporosis,” the silentdisease that makes bones weak and increasingly likely to break. The two classesof women typically have less fat in their bodies and lower hormone levelsoverall, according to Pak. Bone breakage typically occurs in the hip, spine andwrist.

    The older people get, especially women, the morelikely they are to develop osteoporosis. So what does Dr. Pak recommend forpreventative measures to sustaining healthy bones? Here are a few pointers.

    1. For those who haven’t already, get a DEXA scan.A DEXA scan is a bone density test that will help your physician determine whatthe best course of action for you in either treating or preventingosteoporosis. Any score higher than -1.0 is considered very good. From -1.0 to-2.5 means you have osteopenia, otherwise known as early osteoporosis. Thosewho have scores from -2.5 to -3.5 have standard osteoporosis and lower thanthat means your osteoporosis is severe. Treating any level of osteoporosisaggressively should stabilize and possibly marginally improve your DEXA scan.The key word being “aggressively.” It can certainly help inpreventing your osteoporosis from getting worse.

    2. Take calcium citrate. Dr. Pak’s own mom takesthis specific form of calcium because it is the most easily digested. That doesmean, however, it’s more expensive. But don’t just take calcium citrate, Pakwarned that without adequate vitamin D, there can be no calcium absorption. Thebest way for seniors to get in the vitamin D is through a senior multivitaminor consuming the less appealing food products of milk, liver or fish. Calciumcitrate also protects against kidney stones.

    Calcium citrate can run about $20 per month at Costco, butDr. Pak cautions consumers to

    please read the FDAlabels and ingredients carefully. Citracal, which one would think containscalcium citrate, actually has products that contain calcium carbonate. Calciumcarbonate is considered less effective than calcium citrate because it isharder to absorb and:

    1. Cannot be taken with an empty stomach

    2. Cannot be taken with fried foods or lots ofsalads

    3. Can cause bloating and constipation and evenpromote kidney stones

    How else can you help yourself? Dr. Pak said to make sureto get 100 percent of your

    recommended dailyallowance (RDA) of calcium and vitamin D. Dr. Pak recommends 1,500 to 2,000 mgof calcium per day. A healthy diet should take care of 1,200 mg of calcium. Mendo not necessarily need as much calcium because they tend not to eat as muchnor work out as strenuously. When women reach menopause, estrogen productiongrinds to a halt, further contributing to the likelihood of osteoporosis.

    Andpractice Tai Chi. Tai Chi, which promotes balance in many respects, is the onlycourse of action that has been proven to reduce the amount of hip fracture.

    The Crowell Library in the coming months will featureSan Gabriel Valley Medical Center lectures on the following topics: prostate,women’s health, incontinence and allergies. In October Dr. Pak will return totalk about lower back pain.

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