Did you know that at least one in three women will suffer from an osteoporosis fracture in her lifetime? Luckily, osteoporosis can be prevented. Keep the odds in your favour against this fragile bone disease. Simply follow these tips.
Eat calcium-rich foods
Calcium gives bones their strength and helps maintain a balanced bone reconstruction process. Osteoporosis Canada recommends a daily intake of 1,000 mg for people aged 19 to 50 and 1,200 mg for people over 50 years old, which amounts to three or four servings of dairy products a day (1 serving = 250 ml of milk or 175 ml of yogurt). Roasted almonds are also a good source of calcium.
Don’t forget vitamin D
Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. From April to September, sun exposure on face and hands for 10–15 minutes daily is usually enough to produce sufficient vitamin D. From October to March, the sun in Canada does not have enough UVB rays to produce vitamin D, so it’s important that one consumes foods that contain vitamin D, such as milk (4 glasses = 400 IU). Also note that margarine, some soy drinks and orange juices are vitamin D-enriched. Osteoporosis Canada recommends 400–1,000 IU daily for adults under 50 years old and 800 to 2,000 IU daily for adults over that age.
It’s always best to try to meet our needs through a healthy diet. But in some cases where reaching the recommended amount proves difficult, taking calcium and/or vitamin D, supplements might be helpful. Consult your pharmacist to determine whether a supplement is needed in your case.
Physical activity helps bone reconstruction and improves bone strength. It also helps reducing the risk of fractures by improving muscle strength, balance, and coordination. The best exercises against osteoporosis are those in which the body supports its own weight or work against a resistance. For example: walking, running, dancing, playing tennis, and weight training. For physical activity to have a real impact, it must be performed regularly for 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week.
Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol
The caffeine found in beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola increases calcium loss in urine. If you drink more than four cups of coffee a day, experts advise you to drink at least a glass of milk for every cup. Excessive alcohol consumption can decrease bone density, thus leading to an increased risk of fractures. Regular alcohol consumption (more than two drinks daily) can also affect bone health.
be aware of your salt consumption
Studies have shown that excessive sodium intake accelerates the loss of calcium in urine, leading to reduced bone health. Since most of the sodium consumed comes from processed food rather than table salt, it’s recommended to minimize consumption of such foods. And whether you’re at the table or in the kitchen, use salt moderately. Stick to herbs and spices for seasoning.
It has been proven that smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis; it affects bone loss in several ways. Research on the subject shows that tobacco disrupts the absorption of calcium due to certain hormones level changes.
Double-check drug interactions
It is important to know that some drugs reduce calcium absorption, while others increase the excretion of calcium. Ask your pharmacist to find out if your medication interferes with calcium absorption.