Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease characterized by loss of bone mass. It mainly affects elderly women and can also affect men and leads to an increased risk of fracture. One would wonder how osteoporosis occurs. Healthy bone consists of a strong mesh made of protein and minerals (particularly calcium). This mesh is living tissue constantly being renewed in a process called bone turnover. Old, worn out bone is broken down and absorbed by the body while, at the same time, new bone tissue is created from fresh protein and minerals. In children and the youth, more new bone is created than is broken down. This makes bones bigger and denser. Bones are at their strongest when peak bone mass is reached, which usually happens in our mid-twenties. This is maintained for about ten years, with roughly equal amounts of bone creation and breakdown. After the age of about 35, bone loss begins to overtake creation as part of the normal ageing process. If you have osteoporosis, this process happens much more quickly, making your bones become weaker and more prone to fracture.          


 Osteoporosis itself has no specific symptoms with its main consequence being the increased risk of bone fractures. Osteoporotic fractures frequently occur in the vertebral column, rib, hip and wrist. Risk factors for osteoporotic fracture are classified into non-modifiable and (potentially) modifiable factors. Some non-modifiable risk factors include advanced age and deficiency of the female sex hormone estrogen following menopause. People with a family history of fracture or osteoporosis are at an increased risk. Some of the potentially modifiable factors include excessive alcohol consumption, vitamin D deficiency, smoking of tobacco and physical inactivity. Some studies have indicated that excessive consumption of soft drinks (many of which contain phosphoric acid) may increase risk of osteoporosis.             


Osteoporosis can be prevented with lifestyle changes and sometimes medication. Lifestyle prevention of osteoporosis includes smoking cessation and reduction in drinking of alcohol. Exercise would also play a role by helping achieve a higher peak bone mass during adolescence. Exercise and nutrition throughout the rest of the life delays bone degeneration and this can be in the form of jogging, brisk walking or aerobics at least 5 times a week. Nutritionally, calcium plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis. It is required to support bone growth, bone healing and maintain bone strength. Calcium is found principally in milk and milk products. It is also present in green leafy vegetables but in these, it is not absorbed as well as in milk. If necessary your doctor can prescribe some calcium supplements to increase dietary intake. Vitamin D plays a role as a nutrition tool used to prevent osteoporosis. This should not be a problem for those of us in Africa because we get enough vitamin D from the sunlight thus we don’t usually need it in our diet. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D include milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines, tuna, herring, egg yolks, liver, salmon and some green leafy vegetables, such as kontomire.               


Let’s make sure our children and youth especially the females eat well and have a healthy lifestyle because that is the time to build the bone density not when we are adults.


This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola