Osteoporosis Facts and a Doctor's Tips on How to Prevent Bone Loss

Osteoporosis Facts and a Doctor's Tips on How to Prevent Bone Loss
Osteoporosis is common in older men and postmenopausal women. It can lead to fractures, permanent disability, and even death. (CrispyPork/Shutterstock)
Ellen Wan

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle due to loss in density and is a common ailment in older men and postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis can cause bone fractures which are sometimes the first indication of the condition.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), fractures caused by osteoporosis “affect one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years or older worldwide.” The foundation predicts by 2025, the annual incidence of fragility fractures will exceed three million in the United States alone.
The World Health Organization says that bone fractures caused by osteoporosis often occur in the hips, spine, and wrists—with fractures of the hip causing permanent disability about 50 percent of the time and resulting in death about 20 percent of the time.
More than half of our bone mass develops during our teen years, continues to accumulate until around the age of 30, and is maintained until the time of menopause—after which rapid bone loss can occur, particularly in women. For men, steady bone loss begins in later years.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the following factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis:
  • Being over 50 years of age.
  • Smoking.
  • Having more than three alcoholic drinks per day.
  • Being underweight.
  • A family history of osteoporosis and broken bones.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Taking certain medications such as steroid or seizure medications long term.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. Chen Yu-Hung, an orthopedic physician at Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, said, “Osteoporosis is a well-known 'invisible killer' in the orthopedic clinic.”

Prevention Is Vital

The IOF emphasized that a 10 percent increase in bone density in youth could delay the occurrence of osteoporosis for 13 years.

Therefore, balanced and sufficient nutrition is needed at all ages to maintain bone health.

Chen says that certain lifestyles and habits can lead to osteoporosis and that once bone mass is lost, it is difficult to recover fully. So it is better to save our bone mass as early as possible to prevent osteoporosis.

He introduces some methods to help strengthen bone health:

1. Eat Pro-bone Health Foods

The IOF suggests that calcium is the most essential component of human bones. Hence calcium intake in our diet is crucial.

Daily calcium intake between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 milligrams, while for women over 50 is 1,200 milligrams. Men over 70 years old should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.

IOF recommends calcium-rich foods, including milk and dairy products, dark green vegetables, seafood, tofu, and nuts.
Chen recommends:
  • Calcium: Drink one to two cups of milk after getting up to absorb the calcium you need for the day.
  • Vegetables or fruits such as cabbage, mushrooms, broccoli, and plums aid bone health management.
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, and black sesame seeds.
  • Vitamin D from foods such as fish and dairy as well as from the sun.
Food & Function published a comprehensive analysis in 2018 of 18 studies on 12,643 women with menopause to investigate the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and osteoporosis.

Results showed that the risk of osteoporosis in the group that consumed the most fruits and vegetables decreased by about 32 percent, compared with the group that consumed a lesser amount of fruits and vegetables.

Studies have shown that healthy eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish, nuts, and low-fat dairy products, can improve the condition of bone minerals and reduce the risk of bone mass loss and fractures.

Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption and can be found in egg yolk, fish, animal liver, and other foods.

In addition to eating vitamin D-rich foods, sunbathing can also supplement our body's vitamin D. Chen recommends basking in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes every day, with your hands and feet uncovered. To avoid sunburn have two of the daily sessions per week be in the early morning or late afternoon.

According to the recommendations of the British National Health Service, children and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D (400 IU for international units) daily but that intake should not exceed 100 micrograms (4,000 IU).

Chen reminds us that while some people may take calcium supplements, too much can cause constipation, so make sure to hydrate regularly after taking them.

He suggests that when buying calcium tablets, find calcium tablets that have less than 500 milligrams of calcium per tablet and replenish small amounts of calcium multiple times a day.

2. Exercise to Strengthen Bone Health

Exercise is essential for maintaining bone density and muscle strength. High-intensity weight-bearing exercise can help strengthen our bones and muscles.

However, if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, choose relatively gentle or low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, and yoga.

Combining aerobic and core balance exercises, such as standing on one foot and Tai Chi, can improve movement control and prevent falls.

A British study shows that an average of one or two minutes of high-intensity exercise a day, such as running, can promote bone health in women before or after menopause.

3. Smoking and Alcohol Management

Smoking and excessive alcohol intake can affect calcium absorption and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology confirms that smoking more than 25 cigarettes a day increases the risk of hip fracture up to 2.4 times, particularly for women after menopause.

Alcohol inhibits osteoblast function and impairs bone remodeling signals. It affects calcium and magnesium absorption, leading to insufficient bone mass.

Chen advises people to stop smoking and control their alcohol consumption. Men should not exceed 20 grams (0.67628 fluid ounces) of alcohol daily, while women should not exceed 10 grams (0.33814 fluid ounces) daily.

4. Fall Prevention

Accidental falls can cause bone fractures in older people with osteoporosis.
The World Health Organization says unexpected falls and injuries are the second leading cause of accidental death in the world.

An estimated 684,000 people worldwide die from falls yearly, while adults over 60 years of age account for the most significant proportion of fatal falls.

Falls in the bathroom are prevalent in the home. Installing anti-skid mats, handrails in bathtubs, and night-lights can increase safety.

Dr. Yen KoLun, an orthopedic doctor at Kuang Tien General Hospital in Taiwan, advises readers of The Epoch Times to not overlook bone mass loss since the general symptoms of osteoporosis are difficult to spot. When symptoms appear, it may be a fracture and unbearable pain. Therefore, regular screening will allow you to understand your bone health.

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