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Healthy lifestyle prevents bone loss

| DR ARUN PRABHA JAIN
Published : Jul 24, 2016, 10:26 pm IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2016, 10:26 pm IST

Osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly in which density and quality of bone is reduced, resulting in weakness of bones and increased risk of fractures.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly in which density and quality of bone is reduced, resulting in weakness of bones and increased risk of fractures. Osteoporotic fractures occur most often at hip, spine and wrist and are emerging as an important cause of disability and even death in the elderly population.

Prevention of osteoporosis is directed towards improving bone mass and decreasing bone loss with the goal of preventing fractures. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking and available therapies can help maintain bone strength and prevent osteoporosis.

Diet: Two of the most important nutrients to prevent osteoporosis are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the major building block of bones and vitamin D helps body effectively absorb calcium.

Calcium: Women over the age of 50 and men over 70 need 1,200 mg of calcium every day. Milk and other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and green vegetables are a good source. A rough method of estimating the daily intake of dairy calcium is to multiply the number of dairy servings consumed by 300 mg (one serving is one cup).

Vitamin D: Seniors need 800-1,000 units of vitamin D each day. Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D and the main source is from fortification of food and exposure to sunlight (Vitamin D is produced when bare skin is exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun). The amount of sun exposure required to produce adequate levels of vitamin D varies from 30 minutes to one hour depending upon the skin colour and location.

Exercise: Regular weight bearing exercise such as walking for at least 30 minutes three times a week improves bone-mass and muscle strength.

Pharmacotherapy: A medication or hormonal therapy may also be recommended for those who have risk factors for osteoporosis.

Since most fractures occur with some impact on the bone, fall prevention is another important aspect of preventing fractures.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care. Attaining peak bone mass during adult life can prevent osteoporosis later in life, but whatever may be the age, one is never too young or too old to improve bone health.