“Osteoporosis” literally means “porous bones.” The bones become weaker, increasing the risk of fractures, especially in the hip, spinal vertebrae, and wrist.
Bone tissue is constantly being renewed, and new bone replaces old, damaged bone. In this way, the body maintains bone density and the integrity of its crystals and structure.
Bone density peaks when a person is in their late 20s. After the age of around 35 years, bone starts to become weaker. As we age, bone breaks down faster than it builds. If this happens excessively, osteoporosis results.
Treatment aims to:
Bone loss that leads to osteoporosis develops slowly. There are often no symptoms or outward signs, and a person may not know they have it until they experience a fracture after a minor incident, such as a fall, or even a cough or sneeze.
Commonly affected areas are the hip, a wrist, or spinal vertebrae.
Breaks in the spine can lead to changes in posture, a stoop, and curvature of the spine.
Non-modifiable risk factors include:
Modifiable risk factors include:
Calcium is essential for bones, and ensuring an adequate calcium intake is important.
Adults aged 19 years and above should consume 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day. Women aged 51 years and over, and all adults from 71 years should have a daily intake of 1,200 mg.
Dietary sources are preferable and include:
If a person’s dietary intake is not enough, supplements are an option.
Vitamin D plays a key role, as it helps the body absorb calcium. Dietary sources include fortified foods, saltwater fish, and liver.
However, most vitamin D does not come from food but from sun exposure, so moderate, regular exposure to sunlight is recommended.