What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means porous bones. Osteopenia is the early stage of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease of the skeletal system that is characterized by the deterioration of bone tissue, along with the decrease in bone mass making them fragile and more likely to break. This is a silent disease affecting1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of fifty in Ireland, although all age groups can be affected.
Osteoporosis results from an imbalance between the ingestion and absorption of calcium into the body and its excretion. Loss of bone-building materials can occur as the body ages, and is particularly prevalent among post-menopausal women.
There are usually no warnings an individual has developed osteoporosis and it’s often only diagnosed when a bone is fractured after even minor falls. The architecture of bone requires many nutrients to maintain and restore its integrity but there are at least 20 essential vitamins and minerals that have to be obtained from food.
Who is affected by Osteoporosis?
Women and osteoporosis: Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis because bone loss becomes more rapid for several years after the menopause, when sex hormone levels decrease. In addition, women tend to have smaller bones than men and in general live longer, with loss of bone tissue continuing for longer, making fragility fractures more likely.
Men and osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is not a condition that just affects women, although this is a common misconception. If you are a man, you might be thinking osteoporosis can’t affect you as it’s a ‘woman’s problem.
Younger men and women and osteoporosis: Younger men and women can also, but more unusually, have osteoporosis and fractures. Usually an underlying condition or reason is identified but sometimes no cause is found. The medical word for this is ’idiopathic’.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis Include:
- Family history of osteoporosis
Certain disease/conditions including: Thyroid, Crohn’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, impaired mobility, malabsorption, inflammatory conditions, hormone related conditions.
- Medications which affect bone strength and hormonal balance including: corticosterioids, thyroid hormones, anticonvulsants, antocoagulants, certain chemotherapy drugs.
- Early menopause
- Poor diet and lack of enzymes
- Low BMI of 19 or less
- Heavy smoking
- High alcohol intake
- High caffeine intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of weight bearing exercises
- Lack of sunshine