Osteoporosis, also known as porous bone, is a condition in which the density of bone deteriorates gradually, initially causing osteopenia (slightly less dense bone) and then making the bone porous like a sponge, thereby decreasing its strength and making it more susceptible to fractures. While there are more than 10 million cases of osteoporosis in India and it affects both men and women, it has been found that women are more susceptible to bone loss as compared to men.
Osteoporosis goes undetected for years as it has no symptoms, but there are few indications like backache, gradual loss of height with stooping posture or a fracture usually without any major reason.
Apart from being a woman, the risk of osteoporosis also increases if you’re above 35 years of age, have a thinner body frame, are inactive and are at the menopausal stage. Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption can also increase the likelihood that you’ll develop osteoporosis. Certain dietary and lifestyle changes can also contribute to the condition such as the excessive consumption of tea/coffee, excess intake of salt, carbonated beverages, poor nutrition, low-sodium diet and soda and vitamin D deficiency. Osteoporosis is also more likely to occur when you are on specific medications, have health issues, a family history of osteoporosis, chemotherapy, hyperthyroidism, low estrogen levels in women and low progesterone levels in men.
A regular intake of calcium and vitamin D along with regular weight bearing exercise and a proper diet can help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones, as the body does not make calcium, you must get calcium from the foods you eat. The amount of calcium needed in your diet every day is 1200 mg for adults over 50 years old; 1000 mg for adults ages 19 to 50; and 1300 mg for children ages 9 to 18.
Sources of calcium include dairy foods, sardines and salmon with bones, leafy greens, tofu, almonds and calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice and cereals
If you can’t eat dairy foods because of lactose intolerance, try different dairy products to see if some give you less trouble than others. For instance, yogurt might not bother you the way milk does. If you find that you can’t get enough calcium from the foods you eat, a daily supplement may help you get your minimum.
Protein is the next most important nutrient for bone health. Good sources of protein include meats, poultry and fish, nuts and seeds, dairy products, dry beans and peas and eggs.
The protein requirement is generally 1 gm per kg of body weight, e.g. If your weight is 50 kg then your protein requirement is 50 gm.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and prevention of bone loss. The daily recommendations for vitamin D are 400 to 800 IU for adults under age 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU daily for adults age 50 and older. People may be able to meet their vitamin D needs by getting at least 15 minutes a day of sun exposure. If you’re housebound or live in a colder climate, you may benefit from taking daily vitamin D supplements of 400 to 600 IU. Fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish are the other sources of Vitamin D
Magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, fluoride, and vitamins A and C are also required to prevent bone loss. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats, beans, nuts, and seeds helps ensure that you’re getting what you need.