Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes, Symptoms, tests and Supplements to prevent fractures

As per the World Health Organization, osteoporosis is second to cardiovascular disease as a global healthcare problem. Medical studies have shown that women over the age of fifty years are at a similar risk of dying due to osteoporotic hip fracture as from breast cancer. As per a research published in the Journal of American Medical Association, osteoporosis is forecasted to result in a disease burden which would cost US $ 131.5 billion by 2050.

Osteoporosis and its causes

Osteoporosis is common
among the elderly
Osteoporosis is a progressive disorder which is associated with diminishing of mineral content of the bone which in turn results in structural weakness and making the bones prone to fracture. Osteoporosis contributes to two third of all causes of fracture in women and one forth of all causes of fracture in men, over the age of sixty years. Some of the causes of osteoporosis include,

  •  In females, osteoporosis is attributed to fall in estrogen levels after menopause. Estrogen plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and uptake by the bones.
  • A diet low in calcium or other essential minerals is also associated with osteoporosis
  • Weight bearing exercise also increases the risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Certain medications like steroids or anti convulsants used for the treatment of epilepsy can result in osteoporosis
  • Other factors include being underweight, or having a family history of osteoporosis
 Osteoporosis Symptoms and tests

Few of the most common symptoms associated with osteoporosis include the following,

  • Severe lower back pain or pain in the spine, feet or ribs points towards possibility of osteoporosis Compression fracture of the spine or fracture due to a fall are the first symptoms that are indicative of the condition.
  • Prolonged osteoporosis may result in loss in height and subsequent development of a stooped posture
  • Bone loss in jaws may result in loss of teeth and the need to use dentures or tooth implants
A simple X ray of the hip joint or a Dental X ray can reveal the signs of bone loss. Densitometry studies can also indicate the level of rarification of the bones and the demand of calcium.

 Supplements to Prevent Fractures

Calcium by large remains the main supplement which is essential for strengthening the bones and fighting osteoporosis. Ideally 600 mg of calcium supplement taken twice a day is considered beneficial. However there are a host of other nutrients and supplements that play a crucial role.
    Sunlight is good source
    of Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D: As per research reports from Tufts University, Boston, 700 IU of Vitamin D along with 500 mg of calcium can bring down the risk of bone fracture by up to 50% in older men and women. Only 10% of calcium from our diet is absorbed and Vitamin D helps in absorption of calcium
  • Trace minerals like boron and magnesium work towards ensuring that calcium remains in the bones and is not disintegrated are circulated into the blood stream. Manganese plays a crucial role in metabolizing other minerals and is essential for bone health.
  • Vitamin C, improves the formation of collagen (which is a protein which strengths bone and connective tissue).
  • Zinc and copper play a crucial role in mineral absorption as well. Copper supplements are required only if zinc is used for a period of more than a month. Other key nutrients include Vitamin B6, silicon and folic acid