Osteoporosis: an Overview and Methods to Prevent Bone Loss
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become weak and brittle. Our bones are strongest at about age 30, then begin to lose density. One in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture caused by weak bones. Osteoporosis triggers hip, ribs, wrist and vertebral fracture. Fractures result in debilitation and loss of quality of life.
Human bone is composed of protein, collagen, and calcium which gives its strength. Bones affected with osteoporosis are fragile that they can break easily with a minor injury. A person may not be aware that he or she has osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. But there are occasional symptoms of osteoporosis like a backache and loss of height with a stooped posture.
Risk factors for osteoporosis
The risk of developing osteoporosis is considered high with the following factors:
- Female gender- postmenopausal women are most like to develop bone loss.
- Persons thin and with small body frame.
- Hereditary and family history of osteoporosis.
- Cigarette smoking
- Over alcohol consumption
- Lack of exercise
- Diet low in calcium
- Malabsorption- A condition that prevents absorption of nutrients through the small intestine.
- Low estrogen levels in women.
- Malnutrition and poor general health.
- Vitamin D deficiency– with lack of vitamin D, the body cannot absorb adequate amounts of calcium from the diet to prevent osteoporosis.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
Initially, osteoporosis does not develop any symptoms(even for decades). You won’t realize until a bone fracture happens. But there are some warning symptoms to be noticed. osteoporotic fracture symptoms are associated with extreme pain and the location of the fracture.
Vertebra(spine) fracture from osteoporosis can cause severe pain that radiates from back to the side of the body. Repeated spinal fractures can cause lower back pain, loss of height and curving of the spinal cord due to the collapse of the vertebrae.
A stress fracture is a minimal trauma that happens with normal activities. Osteoporosis can develop stress fractures of the feet while walking or stepping.
With osteoporosis, hip fractures can occur as a result of a fall. This hip fracture mainly affects older people.Patients who survive hip fractures are at high risk of further fracture.
How to prevent bone loss naturally?
Well, you might have understood about osteoporosis, its risk factors, and symptoms. So how do you prevent this disease? Although genes, age, and sex raise the risk of getting osteoporosis, this doesn’t mean you can’t prevent it. Apart from taking medications to boost our bone strength, there are some natural remedies to try. A change of lifestyle and healthy food habits can prevent this diseases. It’s time to change your lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Add more calcium
The bones are all in good shape they just need more calcium. We all know calcium is essential to build strong bones. So how much amount of calcium should you get per day? The diary value (DV) for calcium is 1,000 mg for adults and children aged 4 years and older. Are you getting this 1000 mg of recommended calcium daily? If no, it’s time to change your diet regime.
Dairy products are the best source of calcium. Raw milk contains 300 mg of calcium, 1 cup of kale contains 245 mg of calcium (24% DV) and yogurt or kefir has 300 mg of calcium ( 30% DV). The calcium in dairy products is more easily absorbed by your body than when it comes from plant sources.
Here is a brief list of calcium-rich foods(some are non-diary)- Cheese, sardines, canned salmon, almonds, beans, and broccoli.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the functioning of human body. This “sunshine vitamin” is essential for the absorption of calcium to the body. Hence it causes the intestine to synthesize calcium-binding proteins. Our body synthesizes vitamin D naturally from sunlight(ultraviolet B rays). Modern lifestyle has changed the world a lot and people tend to have less exposure to sunlight. This causes vitamin D deficiencies in people and the ability to process this vitamin D gradually decreases with age.
What is the recommended vitamin D dosage? Vitamin D intake is recommended at 400–800 IU/day, or 10–20 micrograms. Apart from getting daily sunlight, a diet rich in vitamin D is best for calcium absorption. Foods that provide vitamin D includes Tuna, salmon, dairy products, orange juice, beef liver, cheese, cereals and egg yolk. Try adding these foods to your diet to prevent calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.
Adequate dietary protein is essential for an optimal bone mass gain during childhood and adolescence. It’s also responsible for preserving bone mass with aging. Lack of protein robs the muscles of strength, which heightens the risk of falls, and contributes to poor recovery in patients who have had a fracture.
Lean red meat, poultry, and fish, as well as eggs and dairy foods, are excellent sources of animal protein. Vegetable sources of protein include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans), and grains, nuts, and seeds.
Whole Grains, Legumes, And Fruits
Although calcium and vitamin d are significant for bone health, adding whole grains, legumes and fruits have the necessary nutrients to protect your skeletal system. Vitamin B, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin K, phosphorus, and zinc are required for the bone mass. Hence eat a balanced diet enriched with all vital nutrients.
Fast facts about osteoporosis
- Globally, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures a year.
- Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide.
- A prior fracture is associated with an 86% increased risk of any fracture.
- Smoking can lead to lower bone density and a higher risk of fracture and this risk increases with age.
- Low body weight and weight loss are associated with greater bone loss and increased risk of fracture.
- Neglecting treatment, the risk of suffering new fractures is very high.
- Exercise and physical activities can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in individuals.
- Bone mineral density in postmenopausal women can be maintained or increased with therapeutic exercise.
“Prevention is better than cure” and none will deny this wonderful proverb. Take preventive steps to avoid osteoporosis and its developing risks. Exercise regularly, ensure you eat the diet rich in bone-boosting nutrients. Maintain a healthy weight and avoid negative lifestyle.