Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak, brittle and prone to fracture. It can affect men and women. As you age, your bones become more porous and thin and are more likely to fracture when you fall or injure yourself.
After the age of 30, your body starts to lose bone density. Women are particularly susceptible because bone loss becomes more rapid for several years following the menopause. Having osteoporosis does not mean your bones will break (fracture), it just means you have a ‘greater risk of fracture’. Even if you already have osteoporosis, good nutrition, plenty of exercise and taking prescribed medications can slow the progression.
The two common forms of osteoporosis are:
Primary forms of osteoporosis are postmenopausal and age-related, respectively.
Secondary forms are often caused by other diseases or use of certain medications.
Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. The key to success is building a strong skeleton when you are young which would help decrease the rate of bone loss as you age.
There may not be any symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. However, when bone is weakened by osteoporosis, there may be back pain caused by fracture or vertebral collapse, loss of height and stooped posture.
Osteoporosis can be detected based on your Bone Mineral Density. Your doctor may need to monitor your bone density scan results at regular intervals so that they can compare changes in bone density and determine how your bone density is responding to treatment.
A successful action plan to prevent or treat osteoporosis involves several elements that contribute to overall bone health. These elements include:
Calcium helps in the production of strong bones. Vitamin D helps calcium to be easily absorbed into the bones. Therefore, it is important to know which kinds of food are rich in calcium and Vitamin D. The recommended daily intake of dietary calcium is 1000mg to 1200mg, and for Vitamin D is 600(IU) to 800(IU). The best way to obtain enough Vitamin D is to have at least 30 minutes of sunshine a day. If sun exposure is not advisable because of medical reasons, Vitamin D can also be obtained in foods e.g. egg yolk, cod liver oil, oily fish such as herrings and sardines.
If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, you may need a calcium supplement. When you look for a calcium supplement, be sure the number of milligrams on the label refers to the amount of elemental calcium, and not to the strength of each tablet. The recommended daily amount of calcium is given in terms of elemental calcium. Elemental calcium is the actual amount of calcium that is available for your body to absorb.
Tips on getting the most out of calcium supplements