Interesting Osteoporosis facts
October 9, 2010 | In: Medical facts
Bones are comprised of fibers of collagen which provide elasticity, and calcium which provides strength. As a normal part of aging, bones tend to lose both collagen and calcium. This loss of bone density with age is more pronounced in women than in men. A person is diagnosed with osteoporosis when this bone loss becomes too great, leaving the bones brittle and prone to fractures.
The rate of bone loss is particularly high in women after menopause. This is because the ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen which normally helps to maintain bone mass. Other causes of osteoporosis include a diet deficient in calcium and prolonged inactivity. Lost bone cannot usually be replaced, but measures can be taken to slow down the rate of bone loss. Treatment for osteoporosis is thus based on measures to help maintain the remaining bone. These measures include eating a diet high in calcium, increasing exercise, and estrogen replacement for post-menopausal women. Estrogen replacement has been proven to significantly reduce the incidence of fractures in post-menopausal women. The foods highest in calcium are milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and shellfish. Calcium supplements are also useful.
As noted above, the development and maintenance of bone mass requires an adequate intake of calcium and phosphorus. However, the body cannot absorb these minerals without adequate Vitamin D. Osteomalacia is a softening of bones that occurs because of inadequate vitamin D. In children, osteomalacia is called rickets. Vitamin D is obtained both from the diet and from the action of sunlight on the skin. Osteomalacia thus results from a diet lacking vitamin D, a failure to absorb vitamin D, or insufficient exposure to sunlight. Unlike osteoporosis, osteomalacia is quite rare in developed countries.