Bone health discussed at Connexions
Osteoporosis is a silent thief. That was a key message in a Community Health and Social Services Network videoconference which Connexions arranged at the offices of the Western Quebec School Board in Aylmer on September 20. The presenter was Montreal physiotherapist Myra Siminovitch.
Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bone, a loss of density. Osteopenia is like osteoporosis but less severe. We all lose bone, but osteoporosis involves more than ordinary bone loss.
Fractures from osteoporosis are quite common. A third of women and 20% of men have at least one fracture from the condition during their lifetime, occurring without warning.
The disease is more common than heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer combined. Women are more susceptible because of the role of estrogen. Common fractures are of wrists, hips, and vertebrae.
Siminovitch pointed out that there are preventive measures that can be taken. We can take calcium supplements, but they need vitamin D to be effective. In our climate, we are not apt to get enough D from sunlight during much of the year, and as we age, we absorb D from the sun less well. Supplements can be helpful, but we also benefit from proper diet and weight-bearing exercise.
Diet can serve to prevent osteoporosis, and improper diet may also have a negative effect. Helpful foods include dairy products and fish. Problematic things include salt, caffeine, smoking, more than two drinks of alcohol a day, and some medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the impact of medicines you are taking and discuss with them what you might do to make up for the negative effects.
While fish are the good guys, protein otherwise tends to get in the way, and members of the plant domain, including green vegetables, line up on one side or the other. Because food serves more than just bone growth and protection, the best advice is to eat a balanced diet.
If for some reason you have a bone density test which indicates you are at risk, then a consultation with a nutritionist or dietician may be in order. Your physician may also recommend drug therapy by injection to slow down bone reduction or to aid in building bone tissue.
While we think of osteoporosis as a disease in adults, it may have roots in childhood. Children need calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. If they do not get enough, they may pay the price as adults.