November is Osteoporosis month, thus it is an opportune time to spread more awareness about this disease. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the mass or the density of the bone is decreased and the structural integrity of trabecular bone is impaired. This leads to bones becoming porous and thinner and therefore weaker and placing a person at higher risk for a bone fracture. It can also manifest in bone deformity, pain, “hunchback” appearance, and diminished height.
Some risk factors for developing osteoporosis are family history, post-menopausal women, age (65 and >), glucocorticosteroids use greater than three months, excess alcohol, hyperthyroidism, excess caffeine, weight less than 57kg, smoking, and low dietary calcium intake. (Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines, 2013).
The most important tools in preventing osteoporosis are calcium, vitamin D, and weight bearing exercises. Calcium is important to bone health as it is vital to bone formation and growth. The Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend 1000mg of Calcium daily for women and men age 19-50; women greater than 50 recommendations are 1200 mg daily while men are recommended to continue with 1000 mg daily.
Adequate amounts of vitamin D are required for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin available through dietary supplementation and ultra-violet rays and sunlight. Canadians are at risk of vitamin D deficiency from October to April because winter sunlight in northern latitudes does not allow for adequate vitamin D production (Osteoporosis Canada, 2013). It is important to keep in mind that vitamin D requirements for an individual may vary considerably depending on many factors, it’s very important to check with your physician or health practitioner about how much vitamin D you should be taking.
The new guidelines recommend daily supplements of 400 to 1000 IU for adults under age 50 without osteoporosis or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption. For adults over 50, supplements of between 800 and 2000 IU are recommended.
Exercise helps prevent osteoporosis by helping build and maintain the bones integrity. Regular moderate weight-bearing exercise can slow down bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise in which the feet and legs support the weight of the body. Great examples are walking, jogging, dancing, and stair climbing. Stretching and yoga are other forms of exercise which help as they aide the joints to remain flexible and prevent injury as a result.
Remember the healthier you are inside the younger you’ll look.
By Gorretti Francisco
ISSA certified fitness trainer
Fitness and Health writer
Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines