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October 20th is World Osteoporosis day 2021! This year, we are calling on all our patients, friends and family to take action to better their bone health and protect against osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease which causes the bones to become weak, fragile and thin. Meaning ‘porous bone’, osteoporosis degrades the internal framework of the bone, resulting in high risk of fracture from something as simple as a bump or minor fall. Osteoporosis is often termed a ‘silent disease’, as it frequently goes undetected until a fracture occurs.

Causes and risk factors

Throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, bone mineral density increases, peaking at 25-30 years. During this period, it is important to ensure optimal conditions for bone formation, including adequate calcium and protein intake, with healthy levels of vitamin D and exercise. Once peak bone mass has been reached, the goal is to minimise bone losses as we age through proper nutrition and exercise.

Factors that may increase risk of osteoporosis through faster bone loss include;

  • Inadequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, potassium and/or protein
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Long-term use of steroid medications

Osteoporosis prevention

Regardless of age, it is never too early to start being proactive about your bone health. Follow these quick tips below to get started.

1. Adequate calcium intake:

Calcium is the key mineral required for bone formation. Therefore, ensuring adequate intake is vital. How much you need will  depend on your age and gender.

  • For women <50 years and men <70 years, you will need 1000mg per day
  • For women >50 and men >70, this increases to 1300mg per day

Dietary sources of calcium include dairy (e.g. milk, yogurt and cheese), along with other alternatives such as sardines, dried figs and fortified products.

Dairy calcium sources

  • 1 cup regular/light milk = 300mg
  • 40g of cheese = 300 mg
  • 3/4 cup yogurt = 300 mg

Alternative calcium sources

  • 100g tinned sardines = 400mg
  • 90g tinned pink/red salmon = 200mg
  • 8 dried figs = 200mg
  • 30g almonds = 100mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach = 100mg

Calcium fortified products

  • 1 cup Paul’s Calcium Plus = 400mg
  • 40g Uncle Toby’s Plus Omega = 150mg
  • 30g Milo Duo cereal = 200mg
  • 1 cup Berri Orange Juice + calcium = 200mg
  • John West Calcium Tuna = 850mg

2. Adequate Vitamin D

Vitamin D is required to assist with calcium absorption. For most Australians, this is largely obtained from exposure to sunlight. The required length of sun exposure will depend on where you live and the time of year. Just a few minutes per day is typically enough during the summer months, whilst 2-3 hours per week may be needed during the winter months. It is important to remember to wear sun protection to prevent skin damage. Dietary sources of Vitamin D also include egg yolks and oily fish.

3. Weight bearing exercise

Regular exercise helps promote bone health, this should include regular weight bearing activities such as walking, jogging, dancing and skipping, along with resistance training using free weights, resistance bands or gym machines. Start small and work your way up, if you are new to exercise, seeking guidance from a professional (e.g. exercise physiologist) will help reduce the risk of injury.

Want more information? Call Balance Diet Centre to speak to one of our Accredited Practicing Dieticians today