It is normal for the bones to erode as we age. But for some people, the bones become so fragile that they break down under the body’s own weight. This causes hip, spine and forearm fractures. This disease is known as osteoporosis. This disease is more common amongst women then men. This is due to the fact that the women have lighter bones and after menopause, they experience rapid bone loss due to decrease in estrogen. Also women opt for heavy dieting in order to lose weight, where they skip highly nutritious food items. This results in weaker bones in the body. Men too can suffer from this disease if they smoke, drink or take steroids.
But there is no need to worry. It is possible for you to slow, stop or reverse this bone loss. Though women have used ERT or Estrogen Replacement Therapy to overcome this problem, you can follow the tips below to overcome or prevent this problem.
• Build up your bones: It is highly recommended that you do aerobic exercises for about 20 minutes a day at least three days a week. Exercise has been shown to stimulate bones to lay down new tissues. It is advisable to do the exercise that you can continue doing over long periods of time. Walking is the best form of exercise but you can also choose biking, swimming or aerobics.
• Walk in water: If you have suffered from fracture, walking in water is the best form of exercise. You can do this exercise three times a week for up to 30 minutes a day. The water will support body weight and ease the stress off the bones and joints.
• Use a chair and the floor for exercise: Complement water walking by doing some muscle strengthening exercises like abdominal curls, shoulder blade squeezes and back extensions. You can do these exercises on a chair or on the floor.
• Eat calcium: Doctors recommend that you get about 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, even though you have not yet reached menopause. If you are not getting an ERT treatment, increase your calcium intake by another 200 to 500 milligrams a day. This means that you can drink a quart of skim milk a day or have two cups of low-fat yogurt or four cups of low-fat cottage cheese to get 1000 milligrams. You can take the remaining requirements from supplements.
• Go for maximum absorption: Spread out your calcium supplements throughout the day rather than take all at one go. Food supplements should be taken with a meal. Doctors recommend you to take calcium carbonate which is relatively inexpensive and is easily absorbed when taken in divided dosages at mealtimes.
• Increase your Vitamin D: Get the maximum protection by consuming 400 international units of Vitamin D each day, especially if you do not get enough sunlight. Milk contains about 100 international units of Vitamin D, hence it is recommended that you take four cups a day. But other dairy products like cheese, yogurt etc cannot be taken into account since they are not fortified with Vitamin D. But do not exceed the recommended dosage of 400 international units since this vitamin is highly toxic in excess.
• Eat different types of food products: Bones do not contain calcium alone but contain an amalgam of boron, zinc and copper along with other minerals. You can get these trace elements by eating variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other unprocessed foods.
• Stop smoking: Smoking has been shown to accelerate bone loss. It accelerates the rate at which the body metabolizes estrogen and thus canceling the benefits of ERT. It has been shown to cause bone loss in men and postmenopausal women too.
• Control your medicines: Some drugs have been shown to hasten bone loss. The most common types of drugs are corticosteroids taken for variety of conditions like rheumatic, allergic and respiratory disorders, L-thyroxine a thyroid medicine and furosemide which is a diuretic used against fluid retention associated with high blood pressure and kidney problems.
• Avoid fizzy drinks: Cola and other carbonated soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which contains phosphorus which is a mineral, when taken in excess, causes your body to excrete calcium.
• Ease salt intake: Excess intake of salt throws the calcium out of the body. Hence do not include salt more than necessary. Avoid processed and junk foods.