Nutrition and Osteoporosis - whats the deal?
I introduced osteoporosis in my last blog as a condition where the density of the bones is reduced, making them more susceptible to breaks and fractures, and that there are some risk factors for developing it, such as age or gender, which we can't influence but also many that we can directly influence to help ourselves.
What I want to look at in this blog is the impact that nutrition has on osteoporosis. In order to be strong, bones rely on their honeycomb structure and a good density of minerals to give strength. Calcium is a key component here and ensuring that there is sufficient calcium in the diet is important.
Additionally, we also know that Vitamin D has a big role to play. Vitamin D is a vitamin with many roles within the body, some which are not yet well understood, but what is well understood is that it is part of the system which regulates calcium in the body. A lack of it can interrupt the amount of calcium available for the bones, contributing to osteoporosis.
We get very little Vitamin D from our diet and it is in fact manufactured by our body, when our skin is exposed to sunlight. For this reason many people, particularly in the northern Europe, have levels of vitamin D which are too low and many physicians recommend supplementing the diet with additional Vitamin D, and often with calcium as well, in order to maintain the Vitamin D levels in the body, particularly over the cold winter months when exposure to the sun is all too rare.
The Royal Osteoporosis Society points to public health advice that suggests supplementation of 400iu of Vitamin D daily during this coronavirus lockdown due to the increased time we are all spending inside and not exposed to the sun.
There are other vitamins and minerals which are important to bone health such as the B vitamins and magnesium. In general sufficient quantities of these can be obtained from a good varied diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. However, should you be found to be deficient in any of these you may be advised to take a supplement to help maintain your vitamin and mineral levels.
A doctor will often ask you to have a bone density test if they suspect you have osteoporosis and calcium and vitamin D supplementation are common should it be confirmed.
If you have concerns about your diet or adjustments to make to help prevent osteoporosis, please do get in touch. We will be able to advise you on the best course of action for you.
So - the take away message here is eat good, wholesome, fresh food and ensure you spend time outside if at all possible and especially in these uncertain times consider a Vitamin D supplement.
While you are outside you can also take part in a form of exercise. More on how exercise can influence the impact of osteoporosis in the next blog!