Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease which is caused by the body not absorbing enough calcium. This lack of calcium causes the bones to become brittle, making them more prone to breaks and fractures. According to Osteoporosis Australia, 1 in 2 women over 60 in Australia will have an osteoporotic fracture. However, putting steps in place now can hopefully prevent you from becoming another statistic.
Three simple steps can help you achieve good bone health, and therefore help you to enjoy a healthy and active later life. Just remember CES: Calcium, Exercise, Sunshine.
- Making sure you eat enough calcium is probably the most important step. Low fat dairy products such as skim milk, yogurt and cheese are obvious choices, but don’t forget the other sources such as leafy green vegetable, soy products, fish with edible bones (such as tinned salmon), nuts & seeds and calcium fortified foods such as OJ.
- After the age of 25 your bones start to demineralise, losing calcium and other minerals. To slow down this loss, consume at least 1000mg of calcium a day which is approximately 2-3 serves of dairy.
- After menopause, you can lose up to 20% of your bone mass from a combination of the decreased estrogen, and decreased intestinal absorption. Increase your calcium to 1300mg; you need to add another serving of calcium-rich food
- Your bones need constant weight bearing or resistance exercise to maintain their strength, or they will start to break down
- Walking is a great weight bearing activity for the whole family
- Swimming, cycling and aqua-aerobics are great for their cardiovascular effects, but they are not as effective at maintaining or building bone density. Make sure to add in weight bearing exercise as well.
- UV rays are vital for our body to produce Vitamin D, which assists with calcium absorption.
- You need to expose your face, hands and arms to sunlight for about 6-8 minutes a day to produce enough vitamin D.
- Make sure to stay out of the sun between 10am and 2pm in summer, as the cancerous effects of the sun at this time will outweigh the vitamin D production benefits.