Osteoporosis creates an imbalance in this rebuilding cycle when bone breaks down but no new bone forms. This process speeds up after menopause. Osteoporosis also affects many men. Low bone density is becoming another common condition besides osteoporosis.
Foodfacts.com believes it is valid it pose this question: who is at risk?
Knowing your risks can help you protect against fractures.
If you are over 50 years old or past menopause. Women who have passed menopause are at the highest risk for developing osteoporosis.
- A family history of osteoporosis.
- A thin or small frame.
- Have had broken bones after 50 years old.
- Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids, used for asthma or arthritis.
- Drink three or more alcoholic beverages every day.
- Smoking cigarettes.
There is a close relationship between nutrition and osteoporosis. You may think you are doing everything right to take care of your bone’s health including eating a healthy diet and exercising. If you are past menopause, you should be doing more in terms of nutrition. You can take steps to keep bones strong and healthy throughout life including getting the right nutrients either through diet or supplements.
Eat a variety of foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals essential for long-term bone health. Bones are more than calcium and need adequate amounts of protein, vitamins D, K, and the right amount of phosphorous.
Calcium and vitamin D
The two most important nutrients to fight weak bones are calcium and vitamin D. Both work together as calcium is a key building block for bones while vitamin D allows for the absorption of calcium. Not only does vitamin D improve bone health by helping calcium absorption, but it may also improve muscle strength.
Getting enough vitamin D is just as important as getting adequate amounts of calcium. Calcium and vitamin-D supplements are most effective taken together in divided doses with food.
Getting your recommended daily dose of calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals can help protect your bone health. Useful foods are low-fat or skimmed dairy foods, beans, canned sardines with bones, canned salmon with bones and fortified cereal, juice or soy milk.
If you are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk, you have to consume other food sources or take supplements. Yogurt is an excellent option for those who are lactose intolerant as the enzymes in the yogurt break up the lactose.
Although many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, this may not be a good source if you live in high latitudes, if you are a homebody or if you regularly use sunscreen or you avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer.
Apart from the sun, the other sources of vitamin D include eggs, saltwater fish like cod, tuna and mackerel, and fortified milk.
If you do not drink milk, you can still get calcium in the diet.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends the amounts of calcium needed for each age.
- Teenagers – 1,300 mg calcium/day
- Adults up to age 50 – 1,000 mg calcium/day
- Persons over 50 – 1,200 mg calcium/day
- Men/ women over 60 – 1,500 mg calcium/day
Eating a calcium-rich diet, for example, can help your bone health. You have plenty of other choices of calcium-rich foods.
Foods Portion Calcium(mg)
- Plain low-fat yogurt 8 oz. 415
- Cheese, cheddar 1.5 oz. 306
- Spinach (no salt) 1 cup 245
- Canned salmon 3 oz. 181
- Almonds 24 nuts 70
Strengthening your bones
Add soy to your diet. The plant oestrogens in soy help maintain bone density and may reduce the risk of fractures.
Exercise can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Starting early in life will benefit you later. Combine strength-training with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, skiing and impact-producing sports mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine.
- Do not smoke. Smoking increases bone loss, perhaps by decreasing the amount of oestrogen a woman’s body makes and by reducing the absorption of calcium in the intestine.
- Avoid excessive alcohol. Consume no more than two alcoholic drinks a day as this may decrease bone formation and reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
- Limit caffeine. Be moderate in caffeine consumption – about two to three cups of coffee a day.
How do you know that your bones are weakening and you may well be suffering from osteoporosis?
In the early stages of bone loss, there are no symptoms, not even pain. However, with the onset of osteoporosis and weakened bones, you may have any of the following symptoms:
- Back pain, which can be severe if you have a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time, with an accompanying stooped posture
- Fracture of the vertebrae, wrists, hips or other bones
The strength of bones depends on their size and density. Bone density depends, in part, on the amount of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in bones. When your bones contain fewer minerals than normal, they are less strong and eventually lose their internal supporting structure and fracture.
Your doctor can recommend a bone mineral density test to determine if you have low bone mass.
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