Osteoporosis the silent destroyer!

By admin
31 October 2013

Build strong bones for an enjoyable future.

Osteoporosis, meaning porous bones, is a bone disease that results in a loss of bone mass and density. The condition usually increases the risk of fractures of the spine, hip, wrist and pelvis. The belief that osteoporosis occurs with ageing and that it only affects women is a myth as young people and men also fall victim to it.

The condition’s progress can remain undetected for years and the first sign often comes in the form of a fracture. Someone might experiences intense pain from a spinal compression fracture which is often related to severe back pain which started weeks before. The bone, which is weak, collapses under the body’s weight. The result is a loss in height and an increase in the curve of the spine, resulting in a hump.

Statistics on osteoporosis

  • Fractures are common worldwide and occur every three seconds, making it a costly disease.
  • 1 in 2 females and and 1 in 5 males suffer osteoporotic fractures.
  • Women older than 45 years present with osteoporosis after hospital treatment for diabetes, heart attacks and breast cancer. Some are also diagnosed after a simple fall.
  • More than a third of women older than 50 are affected and half of women older than 70 suffer the condition.
  • Of every 4 women who’ve experienced a spinal fracture, 1 will suffer a recurrence within a year.
  • Osteoporosis is treatable but taking precautions is more effective. People need to have the requisite tests though.

Two types of osteoporosis

Primary osteoporosis is more common than secondary osteoporosis. Although the causes of primary osteoporosis aren’t always clear risk factors are:

  • Genetic factors such as a family history of the condition, extreme leanness and age.
  • Lifestyle factors including alcohol abuse, both insufficient and extreme exercise, chronic conditions and heavy smoking.
  • Certain medications for hormone, eating and gut disorders.
  • Ageing factors such as premature menopause and negative calcium balance.
  • A history of previous falls, gait problems, weaknesses and immobility and visual impairment.

Can you prevent osteoporosis?

No you can’t! However you can put measures in place which will maximize accumulation of bone during skeletal growth.

Your diet is a good place to start. Good bone health needs sufficient calories, protein and vitamin C to contribute to normal collagen synthesis. Intake of calcium is an important factor in building strong bone. Reasons why people don’t have enough calcium in there system include:

  • Concern about too much fat in the diet. Many people prefer skim milk, which contains more calcium then full-cream milk.
  • Milk allergies and lactose intolerance.
  • A dislike of the taste of dairy products.

The optimal calcium requirements daily are:

  • Infants (birth to 1 year): 500mg
  • Children (1 to 5 years): 500 mg
  • Children (6 to 10 years): 800 mg
  • Adolescents/young adults: 1 200 mg
  • Women and men (25 to 65 years): 1 000 mg
  • Pregnant females and lactating: 1 200 mg
  • Women and men over 65: 1 000-1 200 mg

How much calcium in these foods?

250 ml full-cream milk 290 mg (625 kJ)

250 ml skim milk 300 mg (350 kJ)

250 ml plain low-fat yogurt 400 mg (600 kJ)

250 ml low-fat fruit yougurt 340 mg (960 kJ)

250 ml frozen fruit yogurt 240 mg (930 kJ)


25 g cheddar 200 mg (480 kJ)

25 g partly skimmed mozzarella 200 mg (335 kJ)

110 g 2% fat cottage cheese 80 mg (430 kJ)

110 g ricotta cheese (partly skimmed) 335 mg (800 kJ)

Ice cream

240 ml hard vanilla ice cream (11% fat) 175 mg (770 kJ)

240 ml soft-serve ice cream 275 mg (940 kJ)


75 g sardines in oil, drained, with bones 375 mg (730 kJ)

75 g canned pink salmon, with bones 170 mg (500 kJ)

75 g canned shrimp 100 mg (420 kJ)

240 ml brocooli, cooked from raw 135 mg (170 kJ)

240 ml broocoli, cooked from frozen 100 mg (210 kJ)

240 ml turnip greens, cooked from raw 250 mg (125 kJ)

240 ml soybeans, cooked from raw 130 mg (980 kJ)


25 g almonds 75 mg (690 kJ)

Source: The National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa

For more information visit their website www.osteoporosis.org.za or e-mail them on info@osteoporosis.org.za

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