Okay, so you see the title of this blog post and you think: I’m 35; I don’t need to worry about osteoporosis! And you’re right, there’s no need to worry, but it is important to think ahead. There’s a lot that can be done now, to prevent osteoporosis in the future.
Osteoporosis is described as a progressive disease that causes a gradual loss of bone density, leading to weaker bones and collapsed vertebrae. This can create a higher risk of fractures, back pain and changes in posture.
Worldwide 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis. For men, the rate is 1 in 5.
Osteoporosis affects almost 70 million Chinese over the age of 50 and causes some 687,000 hip fractures in China each year.
In the first year after a hip fracture mortality rates go up 20-24%, and the risk of death may still be higher 5 years later.
To read more interesting data on osteoporosis click here.
Thankfully osteoporosis is preventable. With a few changes in lifestyle you can strengthen, not just your bones, but your overall health as well. Here are some tips to get started.
Our bones are formed by calcium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. Making sure we eat a balanced diet, and get a good supply of nutrients (along with weight bearing exercise) is the foundation to strong bones. Broccoli, chestnuts, dark leafy vegetables, salmon and sardines with the bone, sea vegetables, tofu and sesame seeds are sources of calcium that are easily absorbed. With calcium, absorption is key. Dairy products are not so easily assimilated, with the exception of yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and often those who cannot tolerate milk can still eat yogurt. Recent studies suggest that adequate levels of protein, even above the recommended RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), are also needed to improve calcium retention.
There are also some foods that should be eaten in moderation. This is especially important for postmenopausal women because they are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. It is suggested that diets high in sodium (salt) can increase the excretion of calcium. Avoiding excess alcohol, coffee and carbonated soft drinks is also beneficial.
As mentioned previously, to keep our bones healthy we need to perform weight bearing exercises on a regular basis. These exercises “stress” the bone, creating minute “tears”. When bone repairs itself it becomes stronger. Weight bearing exercises include climbing stairs, brisk walking, and even dancing! Weight lifting is one of the best forms of exercise for osteoporosis, especially exercises that target the back, hips and arms (wrists). Balance and co-ordination exercises like Tai-Chi have shown benefit by increasing bone mass and preventing falls.
*Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program*
Supplementing our diets with calcium is an important aspect of preventing osteoporosis and maintaining healthy bones. Keep in mind these suggestions when purchasing a calcium supplement.
- Check the label for the amount of elemental calcium; this is what your body will absorb.
- Calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium, ideally in a ratio of 2:1.
- Calcium citrate is one of the most absorbable forms of calcium. Many supplements use calcium carbonate but this form of calcium needs a lot of stomach acid to be absorbed. It must be taken with food.
- Vitamin D should be included; it allows more calcium to be carried into the bone. (Sunshine on our bare skin is actually the best source of Vitamin D.)
- Other nutrients that support bone health include Vitamin K, Silica, Boron, Manganese and Zinc.
- Capsules are easier to absorb than tablets or caplets.
So in summary: eat your leafy greens, start dancing and get some sun! Your bones and your body will thank you!