Bones are similar to a porous framework which is filled with minerals that make it hard and strong. With age, there is gradual degradation and the mineralized portion is lost, thereby leading to thinning of the bone. The word osteoporosis literally translates to porous bones, which is due to the gradual demineralisation. In addition to the natural ageing process, there are other diseases that can accelerate the demineralization process.
Women are more prone to demineralisation, and after the age of 40, they should take extra precaution to slow down the onset of the condition. The following are some ways to improve bone health and halt osteoporosis in the long run-
Diet: Ensure that your diet has sufficient amounts of vitamin D and calcium. Though calcium is the essential mineral for bone formation, vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium, and therefore both these elements play a vital role in maintaining the quality of the bones in our body. Most people require about 1,000 mg of calcium and about 500 units of vitamin D for optimal bone health. This requirement goes up slightly in postmenopausal women.
Sun Exposure: In most people, exposure to the sun allows the body to make vitamin D, but careful sun protection prevents this from happening. Also, with age, the body’s ability to form intrinsic vitamin D also declines. The body, therefore, relies on supplements. Most dairy products are good sources of calcium. In addition, spinach, salmon, turnips, and broccoli are some calcium-rich foods. Supplements of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate can be taken if your diet is lacking in calcium. Vitamin D also should be included in the supplementation. The treatment for osteoporosis is incomplete without these two supplements.
Exercise With Weights: The constructive tension that exercise puts on the body helps in bone building, whatever the age may be, which prevents the onset of osteoporosis. Any exercise which improves muscle mass strengthens the bones, and puts stress on the bones is advisable. Since the fractured area due to osteoporosis mainly includes the spine, lower back exercises, yoga, tai chi, and abdominal exercises all work wonders. Pick any of these and do them for 30 minutes three times a week.
Quit Smoking: Continuing to smoke while taking osteoporosis medications is completely useless. Nicotine negates all the effects which defeat the purpose of taking the medication and is as good as taking no medication at all. So if you want the bone thinning to stop, stop smoking.
Alcohol Consumption: While a drink or two per week is permissible, more than this can harm the bones significantly.
Constant Health Watch: Talk to your doctor about how other routine medications (if any) can affect your bone health. Also, identify how frequently you should check your bone mineral density and stick to the schedule.
Bone health and osteoporosis can be managed with some conscious efforts.