What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease where they become brittle and are liable to break easily. Even the slightest bang or fall may cause fractures.
How common is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is one of the most common health conditions affecting Australians. According to Osteoporosis Australia, half of women over the age of 60 will suffer a fracture that is caused by the condition one-third of men of the same age will suffer the same.
What are the implications of having the disease?
Obviously it’s not pleasant to break a bone, but the disease becomes more serious when you risk becoming permanently disabled. It's even possible as a result of having osteoporosis.You may become wheelchair-bound or have to use crutches.
What causes osteoporosis?
Nobody really knows exactly what causes the disease as with most ailments, it is a combination of personal genetics, nutrition, exercise and your hormones. Anyone can get the disease, but it is more common in thinner people, women who have gone through an early menopause and people who smoke and drink excessive alcohol and/or caffeine.
How can I prevent osteoporosis?
Healthy eating is the first and foremost key to preventing osteoporosis. It is essential to digest plenty of calcium each day and to have a sufficient supply of vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D helps to absorb the calcium we eat from our food. Additionally, regular weight-bearing exercise helps to strengthen our bones like muscles, they become stronger the more they are used.
Smoking reduces bone density and so should be stopped. If you drink more than the recommended weekly limits, think about cutting down and whether you need help to do so. It is recommended that people drink no more than two cups of coffee a day.
How much calcium is enough calcium?
The recommended daily intake varies from person to person. Generally, 800mg a day is adequate, but for those who are over 45 or pregnant, this should be stepped up to about 1000-1500mg a day.
How can I get calcium?
You should be able to get calcium as part of your normal diet, rather than through calcium supplements. If you think you are at risk from calcium deprivation, please pay a visit to your GP.
Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk. If you are lactose-intolerant, other sources include nuts, seeds and green vegetables such as sprouts and cabbage. Seaweed is one of the world’s most calcium-rich substances so get tucking in to the sushi. There are also a number of calcium-fortified products on the market try fortified orange juice or fortified soy milk.
Article created by Jennie Meynell 13/10/04
For more information please see the Osteoporosis Australia website.