Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become brittle and fragile, and are prone to breaking as a result of loss of calcium. The risk of developing osteoporosis increases with age. This risk is increased in post-menopausal women as, although everyone loses bone mass after the age of 25, women lose large amounts after menopause due to a reduction in circulating oestrogen. Other risk factors for developing osteoporosis include having a family history of the condition, taking steroids, having rheumatoid arthritis, smoking, an excessive alcohol intake, being underweight, having low calcium intake or low vitamin D levels, and leading a highly sedentary lifestyle.
Many people do not realise that they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture that seems to occur out of nowhere. Some are not even aware of their fractures, particularly fractures of the spine, which result in back pain and rounding of the back – they are just put down to old age. Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a bone-density test.
So how can we boost our bone health and prevent osteoporosis? The building blocks of bone mass include weight-bearing exercise (pulling of muscles on the bones) and nutritional components (calcium and its cofactors). Exercise, particularly anything that uses your body’s weight to move, can help build strong bones. Ensure sufficient physical activity. Do a combination of weight-bearing exercise (jogging, walking or dancing) and resistance or strength training and aim for 30-40 minutes 4-6 times a week.
In terms of prevention, ensure that you have an adequate intake of calcium through diet and supplements if necessary. Calcium requirements are between 1000mg and 1500mg per day. Many people don’t get adequate calcium in their diet, which means that supplementation may help. Calcium supplementation includes Lifestream Natural Calcium Powder, Health Plus Calcium and Bioglan Calcium Bone Builder. You need to also ensure you receive adequate levels of vitamin D through the sunshine. If you’re lacking Vitamin D, a minimum three month Vitamin D3 course will be recommended. Formulations available include Ostelin Vitamin D Gel Caps and Blooms Vitamin D3. Boron (Vitascience Super Calcium with Boron) and magnesium (Blackmores Total Calcium and Magnesium) are also important for bone health. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, red meat and carbonated drinks as they all affect calcium absorption and increase calcium excretion.