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Osteoporosis - Frail Bones

July 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by the weakening and thinning of bones. 'Osteo' means bone and 'porosis' means pore formation. There is a drastic loss of bone density over a period of time. Bone formation is a continuous process involving 'osteoblasts' i.e. building of new bone or bone mineralization (continuous deposition of calcium over the bone) and 'osteoclasts' i.e. bone demineralization (removal of old stores of calcium). Bone mineralization is more in younger years than in adulthood or old age. Calcium is required to perform many other functions like nerve transmission and muscle contraction in the body, other than just for bones and teeth. When calcium intake is inadequate the bone formation reduces and consequently bone tissues suffer, as new bone formation is affected as well as too much calcium is depleted from old bones. The bones therefore, become weak, fragile and brittle and are more prone to fractures.

Who is at risk of getting osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is no longer believed to be the stronghold of just postmenopausal women, but women of all ages and men are equally affected. Postmenopausal women are comparatively at a higher risk of developing this condition due to decreased levels of the hormone - estrogen, which is believed to affect calcium absorption and utilization. Inadequate intake of calcium in the diet affects bone formation and strengthening at all ages. Extra calcium must be taken by pregnant and lactating women as the baby draws calcium from the mother's bones in case of diet inadequacy and this continues with each successive pregnancy and lactation.

How can one be warned of osteoporosis and when to seek medical help?

  • Weak bones cause severe pain and disability. Therefore, unable to do routine daily tasks and at times even mere walking becomes difficult.
  • Above 45yrs of age and you break a bone.
  • Severe or continuous nagging back pain
  • Stooping shoulders
  • Hunched posture
  • Loss of height

How best can osteoporosis be kept at bay?

There are several things we can do to protect and strengthen our bones as we get older. The best way to prevent weak bones is to start building strong bones right now. It is never too late to start building stronger bones.

  1. Adequate calcium intake: Skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt and other dairy products are rich in calcium. Almonds, sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables especially spinach are great sources of calcium. Salmon, sardines and herring also supply ample amounts of calcium. Ragi is supposed to be the best and cheapest source of calcium (344mg/100g). Ragi flour can be easily incorporated in our daily diet.
  2. Adequate vitamin D: Vitamin D works hand in hand with calcium for bone growth and development. It is responsible for proper calcium absorption and utilization. It is also called the sunlight vitamin, as exposure to UV rays of the sun helps form active vitamin D from the inactive form present in our skin.
  3. Be active: Moderate form of physical activity is essential to stimulate bone activity. Therefore, keep moving about even if your profession demands continuous sitting.
  4. Exercise: Exercise of any form like walking, jogging, cycling or swimming for about 30mins for 3 to 5 times a week is good for bone health. It strengthens bones and reduces ill effects of injury. Do not substitute regular daily chores with exercise which is very common among women.
  5. Abstain from smoking: Smoking has a deleterious effect on overall health. It seems to reduce estrogen levels.
  6. Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption affects calcium absorption.
  7. Prevent falls: Make your work areas both at the office and at home much safer to move about without the danger of slipping and falling. The fine, smooth floors, spilling of liquids on floors and use of inappropriate footwear add to the risk of falls and fractures.
  8. Calcium pills: The last but not the least is to resort to calcium pills. Intake of calcium pills under medical supervision is advised, as excess calcium may also lead to the development of renal calculi.
Source: EzineArticles
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