Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease in which the bones turn porous by losing mineral density that in turn increases the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis stands as the sole reason for 8.9 million fractures globally in a single year. Osteoporosis is more common among women above the age of 50 years, and it can lead to fracture of the hip, wrist and spine. Osteoporosis can be prevented by undergoing some important lifestyle changes such as having a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, doing weight bearing exercises on a daily basis and taking supplements. These simple steps in early life can go a long way in preventing osteoporosis and brittleness of bones in the long run.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Some of the common causes of osteoporosis include:
- Drop in the level of Oestrogen hormone in Women After Menopause
- Overdose of Antibiotics and Brufen
- Chronic Illness
- Excessive strain on bones and joints
- Lack of physical activity
- Lifestyle factors such as excessive drinking, smoking.
Top 5 Nutrients to Improve Bone Strength and Prevent Osteoporosis
Although there is no known cure for osteoporosis as yet, but a daily consumption of these nutrients can help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and relieve the pain and discomfort in people suffering from the disease.
Calcium is an essential mineral not only for improving bone strength and density but also for the functioning of the heart, nerves, muscles and blood and if a person’s diet does not replace the calcium used by the body then the body starts extracting it from bones which in turn leads to fragile and weakened bones and can also lead to osteoporosis. The ideal daily calcium intake for an adult man and woman is 600 mg per day, for pregnant and lactating female it is 1200 mg per day, for young boys and girls of age 10-18 it is 800 mg per day. Deficiency of calcium during childhood may have severe negative effects on bone health during adulthood. It can lead to thinning of bones, deformity and increased risk of bone fracture. Hence for infants, the calcium requirement is 500 mg per day and for children till age 9 it is 600 mg per day. Some of the richest natural sources of calcium include dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, milk and dairy products like cheese, yogurt, soy products, green beans, ladies fingers, broccoli, almonds and fishes such as salmon, sardines and shrimps. Dietary supplements also work effectively in replenishing calcium in the body.
Vitamin D is yet another essential nutrient for improving bone strength as it helps in optimum absorption of calcium that is produced by the body. The benefits of vitamin D are numerous. Metabolizing of vitamin D in the body boosts the absorption of calcium by the intestines and reduces urinary calcium loss. Deficiency of vitamin D in the body leads to insufficient calcium absorption even if enough calcium is being supplied to the body through foods and supplements. The best way to get vitamin D naturally is sun exposure for at least 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The UVB rays of the sun help in synthesizing vitamin D in the skin. Some of the effective food sources of vitamin D include cheese, egg yolk, fatty fishes such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, soy products, cod liver oil, mushrooms, beef liver, etc.
The health benefits of magnesium are beyond imagination. This simple mineral aids the functions of approximately 325 enzyme systems of the body and is a vital component in improving bone health. The benefit of magnesium for bone health lies in the fact that it helps in the conversion of vitamin D in its active form which in turn promotes the absorption of calcium by the intestine. Magnesium functions as an important co-factor in the process of calcium metabolizing by vitamin D. Therefore, it is important to supply magnesium to the body along with vitamin D to maximize its effectiveness. Magnesium is also essential for bone mineralization that helps in preventing gout and arthritis. Some of the natural food sources of magnesium include nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and fishes like pollock, tuna, turbot, lentils, beans, whole grains, dried fruits, bananas and green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens and avocado.
Potassium is one of the most important minerals for maintaining proper functions of the body. The daily intake of potassium is 3750mg for adult men and 3225mg for adult women, 1100mg for children of 1-3 years and 1550mg for children of 4-6 yrs. Potassium along with other minerals helps in maintaining the fluid balance in the body. It increases bone mineral density and prevents urinary loss of calcium. Maintenance of ideal acid-base balance is extremely important for proper functioning of the body, and the body does the same by using the alkaline reserves derived from daily diet. But in case of a lack of natural alkaline reserves, the body starts utilizing the alkaline reserves present in the hydration layer around bones which leads to loss of bone density, bone minerals and increase the brittleness of bones. Potassium protects and improves bone health by counterbalancing the effects of these bone eroding acids. Foods rich in potassium work as effective natural remedy for arthritis. Some of the natural sources of potassium include cabbage, almonds, coconut water, spinach, tomatoes, yogurt etc.
The benefits of vitamin K for improving cardio-vascular health and reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks is well established, but recent studies also show that it has considerable benefits in improving bone health as well. Vitamin K reduces the risk of bone fracture in osteoporotic patients by improving bone mineral density. It not only improves bone mineralization but also helps in maintaining the calcium balance in bones. In addition, vitamin K also increases the activation of Gla proteins that are essential for optimum calcium metabolism. Some of the richest food sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, cabbage, prunes, beans, spices, etc. Include these essential nutrients in your daily diet or utilize their benefits from supplements and cut out the risk of osteoporosis, stiffness and joint pain. Image Sources: galleryhip.com mindovermatterblog.net entwellbeing.com