Healthy bones for life.
Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being broken down and renewed. Bone makes up the framework of the body and contains minerals, such as calcium, to make it strong and resilient. Osteoporosis, meaning "bones with holes", is a condition in which bones become brittle, lose their strength and break (fracture) more easily than normal bone. Even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture.
All bones can be affected by osteoporosis but the most commonly affected are hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm.
Osteoporosis is more common in women in their middle and later years but can also affect some men. Risk factors include:
- inadequate amount of calcium in the diet
- low vitamin D levels
- physical inactivity over many years
- regular, excessive alcohol use
- family history of osteoporosis
- Caucasian or Asian race
- certain medications e.g. corticosteroid use for longer than three months
- delayed puberty or early onset of menopause.
Bone density tests
A bone mineral density (BMD) test uses a special machine to measure your bone strength to determine the density of your bones. Most BMD tests are interpreted based on a measurement of a T-score. The T-score indicates how dense your bone is when compared to that expected in a young healthy adult of the same sex. The more negative the T-score, the thinner your bones and the more likely they are to break easily. If your BMD is low, you may have osteopenia. An even lower result may mean you have osteoporosis. Your doctor will be able to explain what your BMD results mean in terms of your bone health.
What can I do to protect my bones?
- Discover dairy. Calcium is the main building block for bones. A healthy diet that includes foods rich in calcium is needed for bone health. Dairy foods are the best source of calcium. Other good sources include canned bony fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel and foods such as almonds, dried haricot beans and spinach.
- Minimum recommended amount. The minimum recommended amount of dietary calcium for an adult is 1000 mg per day. Higher amounts are needed for adolescents and postmenopausal women (1300 mg per day). Eating three portions of calcium rich food each day should ensure you reach the recommended daily amount.
- Get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is required to help your body absorb calcium into the bloodstream and mobilise it into bone. Sunlight is a source of vitamin D and 10 to 20 minutes of sun exposure each day is sufficient. Other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs and dairy products.
- Make dietary and lifestyle changes. Moderate your intake of coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol.
- Quit smoking and undertake regular exercise.
- Calcium supplements. If you cannot meet your daily dietary requirements you can take a calcium supplement. The two most common forms of calcium supplement are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
The staff at Mater Pharmacy are more than happy to assist you with selecting a suitable calcium preparation and can advise on the recommended dose and time of day to take it. We are open after hours, seven days a week until 10 pm.
I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. What treatments are available?
It is never too late to start treatment for osteoporosis to slow or reverse the loss of bone. Treatment is tailored to the specific needs of the individual and can be as simple as taking a tablet once a week or month, so discuss with your doctor to find out which medication may be suitable for you.
Find the strength to keep your bones healthy
There are many ways to maintain healthy, strong bones to prevent the risk of osteoporosis. Start by increasing your dietary calcium intake and making lifestyle changes.
The pharmacists at Mater Pharmacy will be able to provide information and advice regarding the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis based on your circumstances, just ask us.