All About Osteoporosis


What is Osteoporosis?

  • Osteoporosis, whose name comes from the Latin for ‘porous bones’, is a progressive condition that diminishes the mass (mineral content) of bones and weakens their structure, thus making them highly susceptible to fracture.
  • The condition affects one in three women and a large number of men over 50 years of age.
  • It is largely preventable provided people at increased risk are identified at an early and influential stage.


Are there any symptoms?

  • The first sign can be dramatic: a severe backache or a fracture (often of the spine, hip or wrist).
  • Other classic symptoms include a gradual loss of height accompanied by the initially subtle development of a stooped posture (dowager’s hump).

  • Dental X-rays may detect early osteoporosis by revealing bone loss in the jaw.


What causes Osteoporosis?

The decline in oestrogen after the menopause is directly related to the dramatic rise of osteoporosis in older women. This hormone assists the body in absorbing calcium and keeps the bones strong. (Older men experience osteoporosis as well, but bone loss is generally less severe because they have denser bones). Early menopause is another risk factor, as are both lack of regular weight-bearing exercise and a diet low in calcium and other nutrients necessary for optimal bone production. Your risk of osteoporosis is also higher if you are small-boned (white and Asian women tend to be small-boned), underweight or postmenopausal, if you have a family history of osteoporosis, or if you have taken steroids or anticonvulsants for long periods.
Heavy drinkers and/or smokers are also susceptible, or people who habitually have little exposure to sunlight which leads to a low intake of Vitamin D.


See your doctor if…..

  • You suspect that you have a fractured bone.
  • You have sudden severe back pain – this may indicate a spinal compression fracture.
  • You experience significant bone pain (in the spine, ribs or feet) after an injury.
  • You have no symptoms but have significant risk factors – ask your doctor whether you should have a short painless test to measure your bone density. For information about Orchard Clinic's on site Bone Density Scan service click here.


How supplements can help

The recommended supplements – when taken for at least six months – can help to strengthen bones. They are safe to use together and with prescription osteoporosis drugs and oestrogen therapy. Bone-building combination products may be a convenient and less expensive way to obtain many of these supplements, but be cautious if you are taking anticoagulant drugs because many supplements contain vitamin K, which can enhance the blood’s clotting ability.

  • Calcium is vital for maintaining bone strength.
  • Vitamin D ensures that calcium is well absorbed.
  • Magnesium and boron help to convert vitamin D into a usable form.
  • Vitamin C is linked to greater bone mass and improved formation of collagen, a protein that strengthens the bones and connective tissue.
Also important for mineral absorption and bone health are zinc, copper and manganese. Adding other key vitamins and minerals, such as silicon, vitamin B6 and folic acid, provides further protection. For more information about Orchard Clinic's supplement range click here.
If you have a medical condition consult your doctor before taking supplements.

What else you can do

  • Perform regular weight-bearing exercise (such as walking or lifting weights) in which the legs or other parts of the body meet resistance.
  • Stop smoking. Giving up the habit will benefit not only the bones but also your general health as well.
  • Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one or two units a day.
  • If you are menopausal, consider hormone replacement therapy.
  • Eat calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy products, canned sardines and salmon (include the soft bones). Click here for more information.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables for vitamins and trace minerals, and plenty of soya products for isoflavones (particularly genistein and daidzein), which have oestrogenic properties.
(Extracts taken from ‘Lamberts – The Practitioner’s Guide to Supplements’.)
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