Serve up Bone Strength!


By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi




The bone is a living tissue which is constantly being replaced upon breakdown. The consumption of calcium, vitamin D and proteins helps this replacement. Inability of the body to replace the bones
may result in a decrease in the density of the bone known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become so weak and brittle that a little fall can result in a fracture.
The major building block of the bones is calcium and 99% of the calcium found in the human body is located in the bones. Calcium is also used by the body to maintain muscle and nerve function. When calcium in the body becomes deficient, the body leaches calcium from the bone to carry out its functions. This affects the bone structure, weakening the bones.
At the onset of osteoporosis, no symptoms are observed. However, bones weakened by osteoporosis can easily be fractured. It can also result in loss of height over time, pain or a stooped posture. This may result in a disability or death as a result of a postoperative complication.
Risk factors for osteoporosis includes diet low in calcium and vitamin D, increase in age, white or Asian origin, family history,  tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, use of steroids and lowered sex hormones.
Prevention of osteoporosis is as important as treatment because it is difficult to completely rebuild bone that has been weakened by osteoporosis. In prevention, it is important to take the recommended daily allowance for calcium (1300mg for ages 9-18, 1000mg for ages 19-70 and 1200 for those above 70) and vitamin D (600IU for all ages). Over consumption of calcium is unsafe for health as well as under consumption. It benefits most to start exercising regularly when young and continue to exercise throughout life as the probability of developing osteoporosis depends partly on the bone mass attained when young. Combine strength training exercises with weight-bearing exercises as there is evidence that competitive cyclists have reduced bone mineral density. This is because they engage more in strength training exercises. However, it is important to avoid exercises that could injure already weakened bones.
Vitamin D is produced by the body on exposure to the sun’s rays but dietary sources include oily fish and eggs. Aside from milk and dairy foods other sources of calcium are spinach, okra, collards, soybeans and some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout.
In summary, children and young people need to build maximum bone mass and adults need to maintain bone health.  Serve up Bone Strength- it is the World Osteoporosis Day 2015!
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