Osteoporosis – Calcium Deficiency Brittle Bone Disease

Osteoporosis is a nutritional disease that results from insufficient calcium in the diet, and can later in life result in brittle bones and fractures, the name actually means porous bones. In this disease the bone mass and density of the bones decline leaving the bones vulnerable to fracture.

The disease is called a silent disease because there are no symptoms as the disease is developing over several years. The hip, wrist and spinal bones are the most vulnerable to fracture. As the disease progresses the bones become so weak that the slightest bump or fall can cause a fracture, it can also be a fracture that occurs first that can cause a fall.

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects primarily women but that can affect men as well. The stage is set early in life for those that will eventually have the disease.

Some predictors of the disease include low bone mineral density which is often measured today through bone mineral densitometry, a history of falls, low physical functioning such as decreased strength in the leg muscles, slow gait speed, impaired cognition, impaired vision, and the presence of environmental hazards that could lead to falls especially in the home. Risk Factors

Although bone loss occurs normally as men and women age, it is the failure in childhood and adolescence to reach peak bone mass, the failure to achieve optimal bone growth that may predispose an individual to developing the disease later in life.

Bone mass development typically peaks at around age 30, then bone mass begins to decline for the rest of the individual’s life as a part of the aging process. By not taking in enough calcium and vitamin D in the diet early in life and individual is setting the stage for fractures later in life.

Another factor in women is menopause, with the decline of estrogen the loss of bone is accelerated and some women can lose half of their skeletal mass by age 65 and may develop skeletal abnormalities such as severe curvature of the spine causing the individual to walk with a bent over stoop known as a “dowager’s hump.”

Other risk factors include:

• Advanced age

• Gender – primarily female

• Having a thin and/or small frame

• A family history of the disease

• The onset of early menopause whether natural or due to surgery

• Low testosterone levels in men who develop the disease

• Amenorrhea – the abnormal absence of menstrual periods

• Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa

• Medical conditions such as those that block the intestinal absorption of calcium, thyroid disease, and rheumatoid arthritis

• Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants

• Insufficient dietary calcium

• Lack of weight-bearing exercise

• Smoking cigarettes

• Excessive use of alcohol or caffeine

Dietary and Lifestyle Factors for Reducing Risk of Osteoporosis

In order to reduce the main factor of osteoporosis and bone fractures is to begin early in life by achieving peak bone mass through calcium and vitamin D intake.

Along with calcium a key nutrient in bone health, an adequate intake of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K, and the minerals phosphorus, fluoride, and magnesium; and protein.

In addition to dietary factors that will reduce the onset of the disease, exercise is also key to a reduction in the risks, since exercise enhances bone remodeling and bone strength, as well as help to maximize bone mass during youth and slow done loss during the later years.

Exercise Should Include:

• Exercises such as walking and running should be chosen as examples of weight-bearing and resistance training that puts stress on bones.

• The intensity of exercise should increase progressively in order to facilitate improvement.

• Since there is a maximum bone density achievable it should be recognized that as this maximum density is approached, it will take greater effort to reach the target bone density.

• It should also be recognized that when you quit exercising the benefits that have been achieved will be reversed

• For those that drink alcohol it should only be in moderation.

For more information about osteoporosis click on the link to medicinenet.com

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For other information on nutrition some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

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