"Reversing Osteopenia: The Definitive Guide to Recognizing and Treating Bone Loss in Women of All Ages" (Owl Books, $15) targets the osteoporosis precursor that the authors say affects 20 percent of college-age women and 55 percent of women over age 50.


Harris H. McIlwain is a board-certified rheumatologist based in Tampa who shares expert billing here with two of his daughters, Laura McIlwain Cruse and Kimberly Lynn McIlwain, both of whom are board-certified internists. Health writer Debra Fulgham Bruce is aboard, presumably to make the advice reader-friendly.


The centerpiece of the book, which the authors assert is one of the first to deal with osteopenia, is their "5-Step Bone Building Program." In separate chapters, they lay out steps for assessing your risk, caring for and feeding your bones, fracture-proofing your life and safely using supplements when other approaches fail.


The chief controllable risk factors for osteopenia -- including smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, poor diet, eating disorders and sedentary living -- are so widely regarded as inconsistent with good health that they hard ly seem worth the prominence they're given.


Entire chapters are devoted to exercises and recipes designed to help combat bone loss. The exercises -- stretches, isometrics and strengthening -- seem good and useful, as do most of the recipes. There are oddities, however, such as a peanut butter and jelly milk shake. Well, it's got to be better than a hip fracture.