steoporosis is a condition in which bones lose their density and become fragile and fracture (break) more easily than normal bone.
Usually there is no sign that osteoporosis is developing until a fracture occurs. Breaks are most common in the spine, hip and wrist and can occur after only a minor fall. Should I worry about it?
More than one in every two women and one in three men over the age of 60 will experience bone fractures due to osteoporosis. What is my risk of developing osteoporosis?
· Family history of osteoporosis
· Hormonal deficiency, such as late onset of menstrual periods (after age of 15-16yrs), early menopause under 45yrs, testosterone deficiency in males
· Menstrual period has ceased for 6-12 months in a row
· Long-term use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis and asthma
· Chronic health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, malabsorptive disorders, chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease
· Inadequate amounts of calcium in the diet
· Vitamin D deficiency
· Cigarette smoking
· Alcohol, more than two standard drinks per day
· Excessive caffeine intake, 5-6 cups coffee per day
· Physical inactivity How can the risk be reduced?
Eat a healthy diet – plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. In particular, eat foods that are rich in calcium. Calcium is vital to build and maintain strong, healthy bones and to aid functions of both muscle and the nervous system. The minimum recommended daily intake of dietary calcium as suggested by the WHO is
· Children 1-3yrs: 500mg/day
· Children 4-8yrs: 700mg/day
· Children 9-11yrs: 1000mg/day
· Adolescents 12-18yrs: 1300mg/day
· Men 19-70yrs: 1000mg/day
· Men over 70yrs: 1300mg/day
· Women 19-50yrs: 1000mg/day
· Women over 50yrs: 1300mg/day
Dairy foods are the best source of calcium. They contain high levels of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps increase calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal system and kidneys, thus making it available to body tissues and the blood. It also assists with the deposition of calcium on the bone. The body’s main source of vitamin D comes from exposure of the skin to sunlight. Research has found many people are deficient in vitamin D due to spending more time indoors and due to wearing fully covered clothes for religious reasons. The time of year and the colour of your skin determines how much sunlight you will need to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Dark skinned people are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than fair skinned people. If at risk of osteoporosis, vitamin D levels should be checked and your doctor may prescribe a supplement if necessary.Physical activity
Regular weight-bearing and strength-training exercises increase bone mass at all ages, helps maintain bone strength and improves flexibility and coordination. Recommended activities are walking, jogging, tennis and dancing for at least 30 minutes four to six times a week. Regular review of bone health
For women over 40 a review of bone health should be carried out as part of regular health screening. This includes history taking, examination, risk factor check and may include bone density testing. Other measures
· avoid cigarette smoking
· reduce alcohol and caffeine intakeHow is osteoporosis diagnosed?
The most reliable way of diagnosing osteoporosis is by measurement of bone density. This is usually and most reliably done by a technique known as Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA). Simple X-rays can also detect early osteoporotic warning fractures, which may not yet have caused any symptoms.
Contact your doctor if you think you may be at a risk for osteoporosis.