What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the interference of the body’s ability to repair and rebuild the composition of the internal bone structure and is also the deterioration of the bone density minimizing its dense composition. It literally means ‘bones with holes’. If you can imagine the internal bone structure being made up of tightly knit, strong solid mineral material which becomes loosely knit and holey as the disease progresses. In more serious cases this bone disease can result in a high risk of bone fractures and breaks with only minimal impact.
Osteoporosis symptoms are commonly first felt as backache and aches and pains in other major bones and joints. It affects one out of three women and one out of five men over the age 50 years.
The symptoms of osteoporosis include pain, aches and soreness. The pain has been explained by sufferers as being constant and nagging and can result in sufferers easily becoming irritable and moody due to the continuous aching. People may also experience tiredness, lethargy, feeling weak and shaky trying to complete normal tasks and often become scared of tripping or falling down. This can make people diagnosed with this condition apprehensive about exercise however regular low impact exercise such as using a treadmill or going for daily walks can improve your overall health and may slow the progress of the disease.
The causes are many from heredity to lifestyle and diet. Some medications have been linked to cause osteoporosis and it can accompany other illnesses such as kidney failure, liver disease, many forms of cancer, endocrine and glandular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Each individual’s peak bone mass is reached at around the age of thirty and reduces slowly each year after that. Women are more like to develop this bone disease because after menopause the hormone estrogen decreases rapidly. Estrogen protects the bones by assisting the body form bone cells and with sudden depletion of this hormone the bone loss increases to one to two percent every year.
Caucasian and Asian women are at higher risk than others as too are tall and slender women and those who have a strong family history of the disease. Increased risk can also come from behavioral choices and factors like smoking, alcohol abuse, limited activity and unbalanced diet low in calcium can also increase risk.
Osteoporosis treatment will be advised by your doctor if you are diagnosed and can include a combination of treatments including a nutritionally balanced calcium high diet, drugs containing phosphorus, lean meats for protein and Vitamin D. Low impact exercise is vitally important as it can reduce the symptoms and may even slow down the process of osteoporosis.
“Prevention is always better than cure” so they say and it could not be more true for disease prevention.
Some osteoporosis preventative measures include;
Have a healthy and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains
Eat calcium rich foods (suggestions below)
Absorb enough Vitamin D (lean meats and daily exposure to sunlight)
Limit alcohol consumption (Maximum of 1-2 glasses 2-3 times a week)
Limit caffeine (Maximum 3 cups a day of tea or coffee).
Do regular weight bearing and strength training activities.
Good food sources of calcium include:
-Dairy foods – low fat varieties are available to reduce the risk of weight gain or raised cholesterol levels
-Canned fish with edible bones – for example, sardines, tinned salmon, kippers and herring.
To give you a guide, the minimum recommended daily intake of dietary calcium is:
Infants (under 12 months) – 210-270mg calcium per day
Children (over four years) – 700-1,000mg calcium per day
Adolescents – 1,300mg calcium per day
Women under 50 and men under 70 – 1,000mg calcium per day
Postmenopausal women and men over 70 – 1,300mg calcium per day.
If you are unable to get the recommended daily allowance of calcium to help prevent osteoporosis as you doctor about calcium supplements. Also ask your doctor if supplements would be a good choice for you. Always check with your health professional or doctor before taking any supplements as they can interfere with prescription medications and in some cases be very dangerous to your health.