Healthy Bones Week- Osteoporosis Facts
Bones are responsible for many important functions including movement, organ protection and support for the rest of the body. Healthy, strong bones are key to leading long, healthy, active and independent lives. Genes and lifestyle impact how strong bones are. While you can’t change your genetics, you can adopt a ‘bone friendly’ lifestyle which includes adequate calcium intake, exercise and sufficient vitamin D. Looking after your bones can help to decrease the risk of fractures and a disease called osteoporosis.
WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose calcium and other minerals, making them fragile and more likely to fracture. In Australia, osteoporosis affects 1.2 million people. This number is expected to increase as our population grows older. Osteoporosis affects more than 1 in 5 women over the age of 65 years, compared with around 1 in 20 men. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis because of the rapid drop in the hormone oestrogen during menopause. In men, testosterone levels decline more gradually. As a result, bone mass in men usually remains adequate until later in life. By age 65, both men and women lose bone at the same rate. It is never too late to start looking after your bones and take steps to reduce the risk of fracture in the future.
RISK FACTORS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
Reducing the risk of osteoporosis is a lifetime process. While age, genetics and gender cannot be altered, the following behaviours can help lower the risk of osteoporosis: 1. Consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, every day. 2. Participating in regular exercise and physical activity. 3. Having regular and safe sun exposure for adequate vitamin D production.
1. CONSUME PLENTY OF CALCIUM-RICH FOODS Calcium is essential for building strong bones as well as supporting muscle and nerve function. Almost 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones, where it combines with other minerals to form the hard crystals that give bones their strength and structure. If we do not eat enough calcium, the calcium within our bones is used for other important body functions. Over a long period of time bone strength can decline and may increase our risk of osteoporosis. Milk, cheese and yogurt are a rich source of calcium in the Australian diet, supplying around 60 per cent of the calcium we eat.
2.PARTICIPATE IN REGULAR EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Regular physical activity is particularly important for reducing bone loss in adults. Regular activities that can improve bone strength include:
• Weight-bearing exercises.
• Progressive resistance training. Aim for at least 30 minutes of various weightbearing and resistance training activities three or more times a week.
3. HAVE REGULAR AND SAFE SUN EXPOSURE FOR VITAMIN D Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health. It helps the absorption of calcium from the intestines and also helps to control calcium levels in the blood. Only a small amount of vitamin D comes from the food we eat, most comes from our bodies producing vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Regular and safe sun exposure is recommended depending on the season, where you live and the time of day. For example, moderately fair skinned people with arms exposed, require six to seven minutes of sun exposure mid morning or mid afternoon on most summer days.