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Osteoporosis, The Silent Malady
Osteoporosis, The Silent Malady
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the inside of the bones become porous and over time the bone mass decreases. The bones weaken and make them more likely to fracture. Osteoporosis is a silent disease that can begin early in life and advances slowly over the years. The bone is then compromised in strength and resistance against fracture.
Women are more vulnerable
Women are more at a risk of getting osteoporosis than men because they consume less calcium-rich foods and often they eat less amount of food to control their weight. Particularly if menopause begins early (before the age of 45) hormonal changes that occur directly affect bone density.
The female hormone estrogen is essential for healthy bones. After the monthly periods stop estrogen levels fall which can lead to a rapid decrease in bone density. Men also start to lose bone density at about the age of 50 years, but the process is slow.
What happens when osteoporosis occurs?
Most commonly fractures occur. Especially those of wrist, hip and spinal bones (vertebrae). Osteoporosis makes bones so porous and fragile that even a minor fall can lead to a major fracture. Sometimes a simple cough or sneeze may result in fracture of a rib.
How important is calcium for bone health?
The word bone immediately makes us think about the mineral calcium. Calcium deficiency leads to a reduction in bone mass by increasing bone resorption to preserve the level of ionised calcium in the extracellular fluid.
Conventional ways to prevent osteoporosis
Learn about it and tackle it from all angles. Two factors that are crucial to prevent osteoporosis or reduce the rate at which the bone density decreases are
- Healthy diet
Weight training exercises and a diet (with supplementation) that provides adequate protein, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin C, copper and iron in the years prior to peak bone mass will optimize bone density. In the first few decades of life when adequate minerals are provided by diet the body deposits minerals in the bone to strengthen it and also serve as a future mineral reservoir.
How Is osteoporosis treated?
There are several points which need to be kept in mind while treating osteoporosis.
- A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- An exercise regimen
- A healthy lifestyle
- Medications, if needed
Dietary sources of calcium
Dairy products are the best sources of calcium. The other good sources of calcium are salmon, dark leafy greens, beans, and soy foods, which have varying amounts of absorbable calcium. Ragi is a rich source of calcium which will prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D and bone health
For bone health, an adequate intake of vitamin D is no less important than calcium. Calcium supplements often contain vitamin D; taking calcium paired with vitamin D seems to be more beneficial for bone health than taking calcium alone. Getting 700 to 800 IUs of vitamin D per day decreases the risk of hip and non-vertebral fractures apart from osteoporosis.
Physical activity is essential
Children should be encouraged to be physically active and play in the sun. Physical activity ensures that more calcium is deposited in bones.
Women should especially be more careful and take medical and nutritional guidance. It is very important to get regular check-ups, take enough calcium through diet, adopt a healthy lifestyle because osteoporosis silently creeps up on you.