What is Osteoporosis?
Osteporosis, more commonly known as brittle bone disease, can affect men or women of any age. Women over the age of 40 are more prone to the onset of the disease than other age groups. Sufferers of osteoporosis are susceptible to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist. The disease can strike at any age.
Certain other diseases cause excessive bone loss such as cancers and kidney problems. Osteoporosis is also hereditary, and those with family members who are sufferers should be aware. There are lifestyle factors that make the chances of getting osteoporosis more likely.
Lifestyle factors that increase risk are:
- Post-menopausal women
- Small bone structured people
- Family history
- Women with low oestrogen
- Men with low testosterone
- Those on long term steroid medication
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Low dietary calcium
- Constant dieting
- Lack of exercise
Insufficient calcium throughout our lives plays a major role in the onset of osteoporosis. National studies have shown that many people consume less than half the required intake needed to build and maintain healthy bones. Good sources of calcium are: yoghurt, milk, cheese, green vegetables, sardines, salmon, cereals and breads.
Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium into the bones and teeth. The human body make vitamin D from two sources, sunlight and food. Milk is routinely fortified with vitamin D and two cups of milk per day meet the recommended daily intake.
It is important to eat adequate but not excessive amounts of protein. A diet too high in protein can lead to increased excretion of calcium in the urine. Some low calorie diets may be too low in calcium. Smoking and excessive alcohol increase the risk of osteoporosis and calcium loss. Inactivity also heightens this risk. Weight bearing exercise such as light weight training, jogging, swimming and cycling will reduce bone loss and increase mass. Remember that the benefit of exercise on bone mass will last only as long as it is part of your lifestyle.
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