Osteoporosis – a silent disease that results in progressive bone loss over the years with many far-reaching and serious consequences. Many people are not aware of the condition until they sustain a fracture. It is predominantly seen in the older population affecting both sexes, although postmenopausal women are at higher risk. Fractures can lead to loss of function or mobility.
Some risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise which is needed to build bone)
- Insufficient calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin D in the diet
- Being underweight (BMI < 18.5kg/m2)
- Smoking (reduces calcium absorption)
- Older age (Bones reach their peak density at about 20 years of age and subsequently decrease with age)
- Certain medical conditions (e.g. cancer, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease)
As bone loss is irreversible, treatment aims to prevent further bone loss & preserve the existing bone mass. Some of the medications used for treatment include the bisphosphonates such as Alendronate & Risedronate, Tibolone, Strontium Ranelate and Raloxifene. Since the medications used for osteoporosis treatment are prescription-only drugs, speak to your doctor for more information.
Tips for maintaining health bones
There are several ways to ensure healthy bones:
- Calcium Supplementation
Calcium is required to build bones. Calcium is lost daily via urine, faeces, sweat, or shed in skin, hair and nails. If there is not enough calcium in the blood and tissues, calcium from bones will be leached out to replace the deficiency, eventually resulting in bone loss. It is recommended to obtain our intake from calcium rich foods, e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt or fortified cereals, tofu or soymilk. If we are unable to meet them through a balanced diet, we can consider taking supplements.
- Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium from the diet. The body can make Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks and oily fish e.g. salmon and cod, fortified milk, soymilk and cereal. Many calcium supplements also contain Vitamin D.
- Regular Exercise
Weight bearing exercise refers to activities that make us move against gravity, e.g. brisk walking, dancing, aerobics and Tai Chi. Regular exercise is important to build and maintain bone density. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise regime.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis in both sexes. It has been shown that women who smoke are 50% more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than non-smokers.
Osteoporosis can lead to fractures, which may adversely affect our quality of life. There are risk factors that we can modify. Let us take charge of our lifestyle and our health, start now by talking to us, call +65 64712674.