What every woman needs to know about osteoporosis, including how to prevent it

Affecting more women than men, osteoporosis is a leading cause of fractures in the elderly. While you can’t completely prevent it, you can safeguard yourself from it with these tips.
Bone-related problems can occur with age. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Chandrashekhar Dixit Published: 29 Dec 2020, 15:00 pm IST
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Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become brittle and fragile due to lack of bone mass and bone tissue loss. The condition is also known as a silent disease—because you cannot feel your bones getting weaker. Many people don’t even know they have the condition until after they break a bone.

Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, particularly of the hips, spine, and wrists. In fact, osteoporosis causes an estimated nine million fractures each year worldwide. Though anyone can develop osteoporosis, it usually affects older adults especially women.

How to tell whether or not you have osteoporosis

There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include:

Eat well to prevent low bone density. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone that breaks much more easily than expected
These are the causes and risk factors of osteoporosis

Bone is a living, growing tissue that consists mostly of protein collagen, which provides a soft framework, and mineral calcium phosphate, which adds strength and hardens the framework. During your childhood and teenage years, bone formation occurs more quickly than bone resorption, resulting in growth.

Osteoporosis is more likely to happen if you have not reached optimal peak bone mass during your bone-building years. You reach your maximum bone density and strength around the age 30, after which time bone resorption slowly overtakes bone formation.

These are the risk factors for osteoporosis

A number of factors can increase your risk of osteoporosis— including your age, race, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions and treatments. Here are some more risk factors for osteoporosis you need to know about:

Don’t let falls and fractures disrupt your mum’s life. Rather, help her manage her osteoporosis risk. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

1. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men
2. The older you get, the higher your risk of osteoporosis
3. Family history or having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father fractured a hip.
4. Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they might have less bone mass to draw from as they age.

Here are some tips for great bone health to help you ward off osteoporosis

1. Eat beans (legumes): Beans contain calcium, magnesium, fibre and other nutrients. They are also high in substances called phytates.

2. Don’t forgo meat: Meat and other high protein foods are important for your bone health and overall health

3. Say no to junk food: Limit the amount of processed foods and canned foods, as they are rich in sodium. Also limit the salt in your diet.

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Osteoporosis doesn’t mean being chained to the bed. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Trust green leafy vegetables: Vegetables like spinach and beetroot have oxalates, which can help your body absorb calcium.

5. Limit your intake of caffeine: Coffee and tea contain caffeine, which may decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Drink these in moderation—not more than two cups a day.

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About the Author

Dr Chandrashekhar Dixit is a consultant, orthopaedics and joint replacement specialist at Jupiter Hospital in Pune. ...Read More

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