About 200 million people have osteoporosis globally. In Nigeria, almost 40 percent of people aged 60-64years and 75 percent of those aged 80years have osteoporosis. Here are basic facts you should know about Osteoporosis:
1. Osteoporosis means porous or fragile bones
People with osteoporosis have too weak bones which can break, even with a minor fall, bump, or sneeze. When bone is affected by osteoporosis, the holes in the honeycomb structure become larger resulting in lower bone mass which is why the bone is more likely to fracture.
2. Bone density diminishes from about the age 40years
Ninety percent of adult bone mass is in place by the end of adolescence. Bone density reaches its peak by mid-to late-20s. Subsequently, loss of bone mass occurs from the age of 40years as bones start to be break down more quickly than they are formed. This makes age the leading risk factor for osteoporosis.
3. Women are about four times more likely than men to develop Osteoporosis
Most women suffer from osteoporosis due to the hormonal changes accompanying menopause. After menopause, the ovaries stop producing the female sex hormone ‘oestrogen’ , and this has been linked to loss of bone mass. Men generally reach a higher level of bone density before the process of bone loss begins.
4. Osteoporosis often has no symptoms
Osteoporosis is usually called ‘the silent thief’, this is because it has no symptoms. The first sign that you may have it is when you break a bone in a relatively minor fall or accident (known as a low-impact fracture). Fractures are most likely in the hip, spine or wrist resulting in pain, deformity and poor self esteem.
5. Excessive intake of Corticosteroids and smoking can result in Osteoporosis
Corticosteroids such as prednisolone used in treating a number of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can affect the production of bone by reducing the amount of calcium absorbed from the gut and increasing calcium loss through the kidneys. Also, most studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of bone fracture. The longer someone smokes and the more cigarettes smoked, the greater the risk of fractures.
6. Osteoporosis is diagnosed by measuring bone mineral density
Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is used to assess bone mineral density. Bone mineral density testing is recommended for women aged 65 and older and men aged 70 and older, younger postmenopausal women, adults who suffer a fracture after age 50; and adults with a chronic medical condition (eg, rheumatoid arthritis) or taking corticosteroids.
7. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D helps to prevent osteoporosis
Calcium and Vitamin D are known for reducing loss of bone mass. Calcium requirement increases with age; 1000mg for men above 50years and 1,200mg for women. Rich sources of calcium are milk, low-fat yogurt, collard greens , black-eyed peas, tofu, and almonds. Vitamin D enhance the absorption of calcium in the body and requirement is 10-15mcg for adults aged 30 and above. Sources of Vitamin D include canned salmon, sardines, and mackerel; some instant oatmeals; fortified cow’s milk; fortified soymilk; fortified orange juice; fortified ready-to eat breakfast cereals; and egg yolk. For individuals who can’t consume enough calcium and vitamin D from food, supplements should be considered.
8. Weight bearing exercises enhances bone health!
Weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, squatting, pushups, and skipping three times or more a week strengthen the bones and also triggers the body to form new bones. For people with osteoporosis, tai chi exercise and stretches can help decrease the risk of falls. It is advised that people with osteoporosis should work with a physical therapist to develop a safe and effective regimen.
Osteoporosis is very common in older people, and affects post menopausal women than men. Avoiding corticosteroids and smoking can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Also, adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D and engaging in weight-bearing exercise most days of the week have been found helpful in preventing and treating osteoporosis.
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- Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2010.
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