Prevention of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be defined as a medical condition that is associated with the weakening of bones, thereby making them prone to fractures. In a person suffering from osteoporosis, the bones become brittle due to a loss of minerals, specifically calcium, at a fast pace and the body is unable to make up for the loss. As a result, the bone density or mass becomes less and they become fragile. When people suffering from osteoporosis fall or bump, even though if it is a minor accident, it can cause the bone to break. Though all bones are prone to fractures in osteoporosis, the ones that are most likely to break include the hip, wrist, and the spine. A fracture in the spine can lead to height loss or changes in the posture. Since there are no symptoms of this disease, it is often referred to as a silent disease.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Both men and women can suffer from osteoporosis. However, women are at a higher risk of becoming victims of this disease. This can be attributed to the rapid decline in estrogen levels during menopause. The fall in estrogen levels is associated with a loss of calcium and mineral levels. Common risk factors for osteoporosis are listed below:
- Old age
- Being a woman
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Inactive lifestyle
- Poor nutrition
Though it is not possible to prevent osteoporosis altogether, it is definitely possible to delay the onset and reduce the rate of its progression and its effects. This is possible if it is diagnosed at an early stage and proper treatment is given to the patient. Some of the steps that can be taken to prevent osteoporosis are listed below:
- Physical activity: Bones are living tissues which get stronger when they are stressed. Inactivity can actually make the bones weaker. For increasing and maintaining bone mass, it is advisable to perform weight bearing and strength training exercises. Weight bearing exercises involve stressing muscular and gravitation forces on the bones. Typical examples of weight bearing exercises include running, walking, stair climbing, and dancing. The basic aim of strength training exercises is to increase the amount of force exerted on the bones by the muscles. Some examples of these exercises include lifting weights, using weight machines, lifting your own body weight, and standing and rising on your toes.
- Calcium intake: Inadequate intake of calcium during childhood and adolescence can lead to a deficiency of calcium which can result in lesser bone mass during early adulthood. Calcium deficiency can also accelerate bone loss. The total dietary calcium intake (food as well as supplements) should be 1300 mg for teenagers, 1000 mg for people unto the age of 50, and 1200 mg for people above 50 years of age.
- Vitamin D levels: Deficiency of vitamin D adversely affects bone health and increases the risk for osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium and prevention of urinary calcium loss. When there is a deficiency of vitamin D, your body will not be able to absorb enough calcium to meet its requirements even when the calcium levels are adequate. An exposure to sun for about 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a week improves the vitamin D levels in your body.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K can improve bone mass thereby lowering the risk of fracture in old age.
- Protein: Older adults must ensure that they intake adequate amounts of dietary protein. An adult male requires about 56 g protein per day whereas an adult female requires about 46 g protein per day. Though protein should not be taken in access, a deficiency of protein is associated with an increased loss of bone mineral density.
- Excess salt: A higher intake of salt can trigger urinary bone loss and therefore care must be taken to maintain a low salt intake which is approximately 2.3 grams of sodium per day.
- “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of osteoporosis,” published in the Volume 7, Issue 1a, February 2004 of Public Health Nutrition, accessed on 12 April, 2015. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2003590