Your bones are made up of complex living tissue, minerals, and proteins that are in a perpetual state of regeneration. The cells within your bones are continuously breaking down so that they can be replaced with new cells. This process happens fast enough that you won’t notice it’s even happening. This process is most efficient when you are younger and won’t start slowing down until you reach 30’s.
In some people, however, new cells aren’t created fast enough to replace the ones being broken down. When this happens, a condition known as osteoporosis develops.
Osteoporosis causes the bone regrowth to slow down so much that you aren’t generating new cells to replace the ones you’ve lost. This results in brittle or weak bones and makes you more susceptible to fractures and breaks. If the osteoporosis is advanced enough, something as simple as a stumble can leave you with a fracture.
In the early stages of osteoporosis, you may not have any noticeable symptoms. Symptoms usually only become noticeable once the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:
· Gradual loss of height
· A stooped or hunched posture
· Bones that break easily
· Back pain from fractured or damaged vertebrae
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Everyone is at a potential risk of developing osteoporosis, but there are some groups that are more likely to do so than others.
In general, people’s bone mass peaks at age 30. After this point, their bone density will start to gradually recline. Losing bone mass is a normal part of the ageing process and only becomes a problem if you get a condition like osteoporosis. The more bone mass you have at your peak, the less likely you are to have osteoporosis in your later years.
Both men and women experience osteoporosis, but it’s most common in women, particularly Caucasian and Asian women.
Other risk factors include:
● Small or petite stature
● Long term steroid use
● Hormonal disorders
● A family history of osteoporosis
● Alcoholism or regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol
● Certain cancer treatments
Dietary factors can also contribute to the likelihood someone has of developing osteoporosis, especially when it comes to a nutrient called calcium. Calcium is very important to bone and teeth health so if you don’t get enough calcium through your diet or through supplements your bones won’t be as strong. This is why people with eating disorders or people who are significantly underweight are also at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Due to malnutrition, they aren’t getting enough vitamins and nutrients into their bodies, including calcium.
Oestrogen and Osteoporosis
Oestrogen is a female sex hormone that has a large role in bone strength and health. When a woman goes through the menopause, they stop producing as much oestrogen as they used to. The hormonal changes caused by the menopause can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms and can also have a lasting impact on bone density. The menopause is one of the reasons why osteoporosis in women is more common.
Oestrogen promotes the activity of cells called osteoblasts and osteocytes that are responsible for making new bone. Low oestrogen levels can impact how well these cells function and how they create new bone and maintain bone structure.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Even if you are over the age of 30, it’s never too late to take steps to strengthen your bones. There are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health and maintain the bone density you already have.
Lifestyle for osteoporosis prevention changes mainly revolve around diet and exercise. You should eat a diet that’s rich in calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D can be absorbed naturally through sunlight, but there are also supplements you can take. Vitamin D helps your bones process calcium so it’s just as important to get vitamin D into your system as it is calcium.
Foods high in calcium and vitamin D include:
● Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt
● Greens like kale, okra, and spinach
● Sardines, salmon, and rainbow trout
● Egg yolks
Many foods are fortified with vitamin D and/or calcium. Look for bread, cereals, oatmeal, and orange juices with labels saying they’re fortified.
Regular weight-bearing exercises will also strengthen your bones. These include walking, weight training, hiking, jogging, dancing, and stair climbing.
Even if you aren’t in the best of shape, there are several exercises you can do to improve your bone health and overall health and fitness. If you are unsure about an exercise programme, speak to a personal trainer, your GP, or another medical professional for advice.
If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of osteoporosis, you should avoid exercises where you twist your spine or bend over because these can cause bone damage or fractures. For example, sit-ups, toe touches, and sports where you swing a bat or golf club.
An osteoporosis diagnosis is most often made through a type of scan that measures your bone density. After diagnosis, treatment will depend on how advanced the condition is. If it is in the early stages and there hasn’t been too much bone loss, lifestyle changes may be enough to slow down the progression.
More advanced or high-risk cases may need medical treatment to prevent further bone loss and to protect against fractures. A common medication prescribed to treat and prevent osteoporosis is a bisphosphonate called alendronic acid. Alendronic acid works by increasing the amount of calcium in your bones. This improves your bone mineral density and makes your bones less likely to break.
Alendronic acid should start working within a month, but it may take 6-12 months for your bones to be fully protected. Every patient is different, but most people typically take alendronic acid for 3-5 years. Once you stop taking it, your bones can still have protection for up to 5 more years before they start losing significant bone density.
If you have osteoporosis, you can buy Alendronic Acid Tablets online in the UK from Pharmacy Planet.