Osteoporosis is the most common metabolic bone disease in humans that affects a big amount of people especially as they age (1). It is characterized by low bone mass which if not taken care of will consequently worsen and provoke fractures mainly to the spine, hip and forearm (1). People age 50 and over should become aware of the negative effects that this metabolic disease can provoke to their bodies and should try to improve their diet and activity level. Below you will find some guidelines of how osteoporosis can be prevented or in case you are already diagnosed how you can eliminate the side effects.
Make sure you take adequate amount of calcium.
Taking adequate amounts of calcium daily will help in reducing the fracture risk (1, 2). Eating 1 serving of milk, 1 serving of yogurt and 2 to 3 servings of cheese on a daily basis, will help you reach the adequate amounts of calcium the body requires – Institute of medicine recommends 1000 mg of calcium for men age 50 to 70 years old and 1200 mg for women age 51 years old / over and men age 71 years old / over (1). Supplementation is only recommended when it’s difficult to reach these amounts of calcium through diet. It’s necessary to remember that exceeding these amounts of calcium might provoke side effects such as developing kidney stones or cardiovascular disease (1).
Your bones need exercise as your body needs exercise.
It’s very important to start exercise from a very young age, so you manage to build up strong bones and maintain them during your whole life. Exercise will not only help in maintaining the bone mass, it will also improve balance plus body mass density and reduce the possibility of fall (1, 3). It’s necessary to participate in high and low impact weight – bearing activities such as walking, jogging, running, tennis for at least 3 times 20 mins per week (3). Post menopausal women are more prone to develop osteoporosis, thus they need to exercise regularly – if possible on a daily basis.
Get more sun exposure!
Sunlight is necessary so the body can create the required amounts of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is an essential for the body vitamin, that plays a key role to the absorption of calcium and at the same time to the body’s balance (1). It helps in maintaining the bones healthy and improves muscle’s performance (1). Most people have currently vitamin D3 deficiency and especially patients with osteoporosis. Patients normally need more than 800 IU – 1000 IU which is the recommended dosage for the general deficient population (1). It’s necessary to check the vitamin D3 levels with a clinician and find out what is the necessary amount your body requires.
Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
It’s mandatory to quit smoking if you want to protect your health and your bones. Tobacco has detrimental effects on the skeleton (1), especially for someone who suffers from osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Excessive alcohol consumption has also been found to be detrimental for bone density and it seems to increase the risk of falling (1). In case you consume more alcohol than the daily allowed amount, you should seek the help of a physician or doctor.
What about Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, which seems to play a key role to the improvement of bone health and the prevention of bone loss (1, 4). Specifically, vitamin K1 is the part of vitamin K that when combined with calcium and vitamin D3 , showed to increase bone density and mineral content (4). Vitamin K2 seems to have positive effects on the bone mass too, but further research is required to understand the exact role of vitamin K. Foods high in vitamin K are the green leafy vegetables, asparagus, fennel, olive oil, pickles, prunes and herbs.
Remember that whatever the stage you are – osteopenia, osteoporosis, or already have the first fracture – you can always improve the conditions of this disease and why not try to reverse its effects.
- Cosman, F., de Beur, S. J., Le Boff, M. S., Lewiecki, E. M., Tanner, B., Randall, S. and Lindsay, R. (2015). Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int., 26 (7), 2045.
- Gibney, M.J.,Margetts, B. M., Kearney and J. M., Arab, L. (2004). Public Health Nutrition. The Nutrition Society Textbook Series. Blackwell Publishing.
- Grahn Kronhed, A. (2010). Osteoporosis and physical activity. In: JH Stone, M Blouin, editors. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation.
- Lanham-New, S. A. (2008). Importance of calcium, vitamin D, and Vitamin K for osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67, 163 – 176.