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Rita Mansour, a dietitian at Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital gives the lowdown on Osteoporosis.

Prevent the

‘silent thief’ from striking

M

uch has been written and said about osteoporosis which is also dubbed ’the silent thief’ as it reduces bone mass without any visible symptoms. This leads to an increased risk of fracture, significantly affecting life expectancy and quality of life. These fractures commonly occur in the vertebral column, hip, wrist and rib. Research proves that women are more susceptible to Osteoporosis than men. In fact, 40 percent of women with osteoporosis will suffer from a fracture sooner or later. Here’s a simple guide to help you understand the causes of Osteoporosis and how you and your loved ones can prevent it with a few simple lifestyle changes. It is never too late.

Causes There are two different set of risk factors for osteoporosis. One set is determined by our lifestyle and general health and we have control over. These include dietary habits (i.e. calcium and vitamin D

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How you can beat Osteoporosis While age and gender may be beyond our control, still here are a few ways you can decrease your risk of Osteoporosis.

Fitness, Fitness, Fitness

Sure, everyone talks about it and we all promise ourselves to hit the gym tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. But our resolve disappears and we blame it on time, traffic, work, TV and any excuse we can grab hold of. According to Rita, “All it takes is regular weight bearing exercises such as brisk walking or jogging. However if you suffer from osteoporosis, you should always discuss it with your doctor.” Weight-bearing exercises are those that increase pressure on the bones through gravitational thrust. This helps our body produce more bone mass. Staying fit also reduces the body fat percentage which helps your body absorb Vitamin D better.

Eat Right People in the age group of 19-50 are recommended to consume about 1,000 mg of calcium per day and the new recommendation for vitamin D is 400 to 800 units per day. Dairy products are the richest sources of calcium. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are non-dairy products such as soya bean products like tofu, as well as sesame seeds, nuts, white bread, dried fruit, pulses, green leafy vegetables, enriched orange juice or lactose free milk products. While the best source of Vitamin D is sunshine, the searing heat makes it impractical to get out and

intake) and exercise regime. It has also been well established that regular smokers and drinkers are at higher risk of osteoporosis. There’s a high incidence of osteoporosis among those people who are under long term cortisone-therapy. Cortisone diminishes the calcium absorption in our body. Vitamin D deficiency is also a leading cause of Osteoporosis. Then there are the other set of risk factors that are predetermined and beyond our control. These include genetic make-up and ethnicity, age and gender. We examine some of these causes to understand how we can thwart the ’silent thief’.

and Sports Medicine Hospital explains, “If you’re out in the sun and wearing an SPF 15 sun-block lotion, your lotion will block 99 percent of the Vitamin D absorption.” She added, “Even your skin colour determines your absorption of Vitamin D. People with fairer skin are likely to absorb more Vitamin D in the same amount of time than people with darker skin.” Vitamin D is also fat soluble, which means, “If you’re obese or have a higher body fat percentage, there is a sequestration of the Vitamin D in your body fat reducing its availability to the rest of your body.”

Age D for deficiency In spite of being blessed with abundant sunlight in this region, scorching temperatures tend to keep us in for most of the day. However, sunlight is the richest source of Vitamin D as your skin produces the vitamin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Rita Mansour, a dietitian at Aspetar Orthopaedic

Rita shed some light on how age affects our risk of Osteoporosis, “Our body produces two types of bone cells: Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts. Osteoblasts help in the formation of bones while Osteoclasts break down bones. While we’re younger, our body produces more Osteoblasts, but after the age of 30, Osteoclasts take over in number. This increases the risk

about in the sun. Rita says, “Oily fishes like tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon are easy to find and are rich sources of Vitamin D.” All major brands of milk, buttermilk are all enriched with Vitamin D. She added, “One cup (250 ml) of milk gives you 100 units of Vitamin D”. If your diet does not provide these recommended values, there is always a calcium and vitamin D supplement that can be taken. Get started by adhering to the dietary guidelines of your age group.

TREATING OSTEOPOROSIS:

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has seen some success among women in preventing osteoporosis by replenishing the estrogen in their body and thereby inhibiting bone mass breakdown. Rita also warns, “This isn’t suitable for everyone. Your doctor would look into your family history and see if you are an optimal candidate for HRT.“

Biphosphonate therapy Much like estrogens, this group of drugs can inhibit bone breakdown and preserve bone mass. Moreover, this therapy will even increase bone density in your spine and hip, reducing the risk of fractures.

of osteoporosis as we grow older. The importance of a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium at an early age would build up the bone mass.”

Gender “Women who reach menopause sooner or undergo hysterectomy increase their risks of suffering from osteoporosis,” said Rita. Estrogen helps calcium to be absorbed by the bone. When the body stops producing estrogen, we’re at higher risk of getting Osteoporosis because of the augmentation of bone loss. While Osteoporosis isn’t usually reversible, there are ways to manage the disease through medication, exercise and diet. Since bone mass is at its highest during adolescence, it is important to have a proper diet and exercise regime at a young age. It is important to incorporate this into your lifestyle before you reach menopause to ensure you’re building a strong and high level of bone mass to reduce your risk of osteoporosis later on 2010 September

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WT_ September- H&F (Aspetar)