What Is Osteoporosis, And How To Prevent It?
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will have an osteoporosis-associated fracture in their lifetimes after the age of 50. All of us need to understand what is osteoporosis, its causes and how to prevent osteoporosis to lead a healthy life.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means porous bone. It is a condition which causes bones to become brittle and weak due to less bone mass and strength. People with osteoporosis are at greater risk for fractures, even from a relatively minor fall or mild stresses such as bending over. Osteoporosis associated fractures occur mostly in the wrist, hip, and spine. Fractures can lead to disability and impaired quality of life.
Osteoporosis is called a silent disease since this disease may be symptomless for extended periods. Once the bones are weakened by osteoporosis, people might experience loss of height, changes in posture, shortness of breath, bone fractures, or pain in the lower back.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Bone is a living tissue which is constantly renewing itself. Osteoclasts and osteoblasts are the cells which are responsible for the regeneration of bones. It replaces the old bone tissues with new bone tissue. Until the age of late 20’s bones are strongest, where new bone is formed quickly. From around the age of 35, the bone breakdown occurs faster than its being replaced, so the bones gradually begin to lose their density.
In people with osteoporosis, loss of bone mass occurs at a greater rate; that is why the bones are more likely to get fractured. Let’s talk about the factors which increase the chance of developing osteoporosis.
Age and gender: Osteoporosis can affect both women and men, but women are about 4 times more likely to develop it than men. Postmenopausal women and women above the age of 50 are at high risk. It is because the estrogen hormone, which is essential for bones, decreases after menopause.
Women who have early menopause (before the age of 45), had a hysterectomy (removal of the womb, especially when the ovaries are also removed) before the age of 45, or missed periods for more than six months are at higher risk. They cause a dramatic reduction in the body’s estrogen levels.
In men, the male hormone testosterone helps keep the bones healthy. Low testosterone levels can raise the risk of osteoporosis in men.
Family history: If your family member or a close relative have osteoporosis, you may be more likely to develop this disorder.
Bodyweight: People with BMI (body mass index) of 19 or less are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Hence thin people are more prone compared to people with more body weight.
Dietary and lifestyle factors: Diet low in calcium or vitamin D can cause osteoporosis. Alcoholism increases the risk of osteoporosis and even delays the healing of fractures. Smoking can decrease the hormones estrogen and testosterone, which are essential for healthy bones. It can also deplete the nutrients such as vitamin C, which are important for bone building. People who are physically inactive and spend a lot of time sitting are at high risk of osteoporosis.
Medical Conditions That Can Trigger Osteoporosis Are:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease
- Multiple myeloma and other cancer conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
- Overactive parathyroid, thyroid, or adrenal glands
- History of organ transplant or weight loss surgery
Steroids and other medicines: Taking corticosteroid medications such as prednisolone or prednisone (particularly if taken by mouth) for more than three months can lower the production of bone by altering calcium levels in the body.
The medications used in the treatment of seizures, breast cancer, blood clot disorders, transplant rejection, etc., may damage bone and cause osteoporosis.
How To Prevent Osteoporosis?
- Calcium: Calcium constitutes one fifth of total bone mass. Getting the right amount of calcium is important. Adults aged between 19 to 50 years require 1000mg calcium per day. Men above 70 and women above 50 require 1200mg calcium per day. The dietary sources rich in calcium are milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, beans, nuts, almonds, broccoli, salmon, spinach, kale, and parsley.
- Vitamin D: It is essential for the absorption of calcium. Adults aged 70 and younger require 600IU of vitamin D per day, and adults above 70 require 800IU per day. Sunlight triggers the formation of vitamin D. Aim for a 15-minute sunbath daily. The dietary sources rich in vitamin D are oily fishes such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Egg yolks and red meat also have a rich source of vitamin D.
- Other nutrients: Although vitamin D and calcium are primary nutrients to consider, other nutrients such as vitamin K, boron, and magnesium are also vital to bone health. They are found in larger amounts in dark-green vegetables and fruits. Good quality proteins are also significant for bone health.
Involve in regular physical activity:
Anything that works your muscles against the bones, causes bone growth and strength. Get thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercises 3 to 5 times a week. Weight-bearing exercises include dancing, running, skipping, and aerobics. Resistant exercises such as weightlifting or press-ups can also help prevent osteoporosis. Exercise can also help maintain ideal body weight, which is essential for healthy bones.
Avoid unhealthy life habits:
- Smoking: Around 20% of all hip fractures are linked to cigarette smoking, and you can reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis to half by quitting smoking.
- Alcohol: Limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks. If you drink alcohol, try not to drink more than the standard size. Avoid binge drinking.
When To Seek Medical Help?
Women above the age of sixty-five and men above the age of seventy should consider getting a bone density test which gives information about your bone health. However, if you have any risk factors associated with osteoporosis, ask your health care professional about screening. If you are diagnosed with this disease, your health care provider may prescribe osteoporosis medications and supplements.
Osteoporosis can lead to life-threatening fractures, but the good news is that it can be prevented. The Sooner you begin keeping the bones healthy, you can stay away from osteoporosis.