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Make No Bones about Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition which causes the bones to become thin and weak, with a tendency to fracture easily. This is becoming a hugely distressing disease//, which has unfortunately acquired a household status. With osteoporosis, there is loss of vital minerals in the bone; mainly calcium, causing bones to become extremely brittle, which could result in a wrist, hip or spine, fracture.

Statistics paint a dismal picture with almost one among 3 women over the age of 50 combating osteoporosis, along with one in 5 men. This being the regularity with which it strikes, World Osteoporosis Day, on October 20, 2006, is an apt day to emphasize the function of food and nutrition in building and maintaining strong bones. The theme, this year, ‘Bone Appetit’, is a silent reminder that healthy diet and nutrition along with a healthy lifestyle is the only way to bone health.

Osteoporosis is thought to be the lot of the elderly, simply because it is well known that people lose bone mass as they catch up with age. Indeed, bone growth during childhood and adolescence is as crucial as bone loss, in the development of osteoporosis. Girls and boys between the ages of 11-17 need to be on guard because most of the bone development takes place during this time. Bones are endowed with strength during childhood. When people adopt healthy habits and build bone mass, they are reducing the burden of ‘bad bones’ later in life and in effect are investing in their health. Further, it is important to know that certain lifestyle activities, such as eating disorders, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, can adversely hamper bone health.

The main message of this day is to ensure that people include adequate calcium in their diet, which should meet with the recommended dietary guidelines, ideally consumed at all stages in life. Dairy foods, calcium-set tofu, green vegetables, nuts, and fish provide easy sources of dietary calcium. Further, it will do a world of good to get adequate supply of vitamin D, which is possible through sufficient exposure to the sun, and through diet and supplements.

The necessity to consume adequate protein cannot be overemphasized, to offset protein malnutrition, which is one of the crucial risk factors for hip fracture. It is also important to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in the diet. For example, the Institute of Medicine has issued guidelines that require children from age 9 to 17 to ensure calcium intake of 1,300 mg/day. Calcium is ‘the’ most important nutrient for healthy bone mass.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation has communicated a potent message on this day that despite osteoporosis being a serious disease, yet, it is entirely in our hands to make or mar bone health. Because what bones need is just healthy diet and lifestyle!

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