This Friday October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones lose density causing them to become weak and more likely to fracture. About one in two women and one in five men over 50 will fracture a bone because of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can affect all age groups, but it's most common in postmenopausal women. Having osteoporosis doesn't automatically mean that your bones will fracture; it just means that it's more likely. More information on Osteoporosis can be obtained in Whelehans or www.whelehans.ie.
If you have osteoporosis you need to be careful of vigorous, high-impact exercise. However, leading an active lifestyle will improve balance, coordination and develop muscle strength. All these can reduce the risk of falling and fracturing a bone. Beneficial exercise includes swimming, gardening, walking and golf.
Eating a diet rich in calcium is important for maintaining healthy bones. Dairy products and green leafed vegetables are good sources of vegetables. Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis should aim to take 1,000mg of calcium every day, either in their diet or as a supplement. This can be obtained from 600ml of milk with either 50g of hard cheese (eg) Cheddar or Edam, one pot of yogurt, or 50g of sardines. Low fat versions of dairy products have the same amount of calcium as full fat versions.
You should cut down on fizzy drinks, caffeine, salt and animal protein (eg. Beef) as these can affect the balance of calcium in your body. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can help to cancel out the effects of too much protein in your diet. Smoking can have a harmful effect on your bone strength and can also cause an early menopause. Too much alcohol can also cause osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and Vitamin D
Your body also needs vitamin D to absorb calcium properly. The National Osteoporosis Society recommends about 20 minutes of sun exposure to the face and arms, every day during the summer, to provide you with enough vitamin D for the year, except between 11am and 3pm to reduce sunburn risk. Examples of dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, and sardines), egg yolks and fortified foods such as milk and breakfast cereals. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D for adults is 600IU daily and this rises to 800IU in people over 70.
Between 40 to 80 per cent of people over 65 have vitamin D deficiency in Ireland. Vitamin D deficiency also causes a mild muscle weakness and hence increases the risk of falls and hence fractures. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation is especially important in this age group.
If you are not getting enough vitamin D from your diet, Adult D® Capsules which are available from Whelehans Pharmacy are an excellent source of vitamin D. Adult D® Capsules contains 1000IU of vitamin D3 which is the easiest type of vitamin D to absorb. It is recommended by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and only costs €2.98 per month. It is not recommended to take above 4000IU of vitamin D daily but unlike vitamin A, there is no evidence that high levels of vitamin D pose any risk to health.
To be continued…next week I will discuss medication used for treating osteoporosis.
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Find us on Facebook.