Osteoporosis is called the silent thief because you do not experience any symptoms, the first time you know about it is when a bone snaps unexpectedly. Osteoporosis means “porous bones” and it is a condition where the skeleton becomes very fragile and the bones break easily. Simple things can cause a bone to break, such as stepping off a curb, sneezing, being hugged or even bending down to pick something up. Breakages are mainly in the hips, spine and wrist and effects mainly women but men can have it as well.
You might think that the skeleton does nothing else but holds you up but it is every bit as dynamic as other tissues, bone responds to the pull of muscles and gravity, repairs itself, and constantly renews itself. The skeleton also protects the internal organs, as well as allowing you to move about.
After the age of 30, the bone starts to breakdown and outpaces formation. The volume of the bone remains the same, but it’s density declines.
Calcium intake is important to build bone but you also need vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium. Vitamin D is produced by the skin in sunlight or can be found in many foods, such as in milk products and many breakfast cereals. It has also been found that Collagen, Magnesium and Vitamin K can also assist in the reduction of bone loss. Vitamin K can be found in greens, whereas Magnesium is found in small quantities in a variety of foods, so eating a varied, healthy diet should provide what you require. Read more about Collagen here.
A lifelong habit of weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or biking, will also help build and maintain strong bones. The greatest benefit as you grow older is that physical fitness reduces the risk of fracture, because it gives you better balance, muscle strength, and agility, making falls less likely. Exercise also provides many other life-enhancing psychological and cardiovascular benefits.
You don’t have to do too much, to get the most benefit from exercise. It is suggested that 30 minutes brisk walking five days a week is all you need. Add in a little weightlifting, and that’s even better. The reason behind this recommendation is that the flexing of bones during exercise is thought to prompt the body to lay down more calcium in the bones. It’s always smart to ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you already have osteoporosis or other health problems.
It is important to ensure that when exercising the body has enough nutrients to build muscle otherwise minerals could be leeched from the bone making the bone more susceptible to osteoporosis. It is therefore important that you do not exercise on an empty stomach.
Osteoporosis is a problem that can affect anyone in their later years and you should do all that you can to keep your bones strong.
Fortunately, here in Australia it is fairly straight forward to have your bone mass tested. We would recommend that you consult your GP about getting your bone mass measured. Knowing your bone mass can help you understand what you might need to do to prevent onset of osteoporosis. Typically small changes in our diet and exercise earlier in your life are all that is needed, so the sooner you measure your bone mass, the better.