Bones are rigid organs that provide a frame to our body. They perform various mechanical, metabolic and synthetic functions. To maintain the level of calcium in our body, bones will be the last source of borrowing calcium. This creates a calcium debt. Even this debt has to be repaid along with the interest, that is ‘high intake of calcium foods’, to keep our bones strong and healthy. If this calcium debt continues to increase further, it results in weakening and thinning of bones, which leads to a disease named osteoporosis. If this process still continues, this debt will become such that it can never be repaid.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one out of eight males and three out of eight females suffer from osteoporosis in India. The Osteoporosis Society of India estimated the number of patients at about 26 million in 2003 and projects an increase to 36 million by 2013.
Prevention: What can you do?
- Don’t wait for that dreaded bone weakening disease to strike. Here are some bone strengthening guidelines:
- Get enough calcium each day through dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, fortified cereals, soya beans, oatmeal, spinach and other green leafy vegetables. If you do not meet the daily calcium requirements, you can supplement it with a calcium pill. Consult your doctor and see if you need a calcium pill, and which kind is best for you.
- Calcium needs a partner in its bone protection work – vitamin D. You can get vitamin D through sunlight, foods like mackerel, salmon, tuna, and dairy products with added vitamin D. Check the food labels to see how much of vitamin D you are getting. But, only a cup of milk and its products aren’t the skeleton’s only pals. Our bones also require protein, vitamins and minerals in ample amount.
- Ensure that you are taking appropriate amounts of protein through lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, dairy, soy foods, skinless poultry and nuts.
- Get enough vitamins: Kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress and asparagus are good sources of vitamin K which helps in increasing bone mineral density and also reduce fracture rates.
- A well-known antioxidant vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis, absorption of iron, and contributes to a healthy immune system. It also aids in optimal functioning of osteoblast cells that are responsible for making the new and hard bone. Vitamin C is not only found in citrus fruits but also in strawberries, grapefruit, broccoli, bell peppers and sweet potatoes.
- Magnesium helps in keeping the bones strong, regulates the heartbeat, strengthens the immune system and maintains normal functioning of muscles and nerves. It also helps in the absorption of calcium. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, wheat germ, flax seeds and peanuts are some of the best dietary sources.
- Potassium helps to increase bone formation, improves calcium balance, increases bone mineral density and reduces bone resorption by neutralising metabolic acids. Coconut water, bananas, spinach, lettuce, apricots, papaya, watermelon, orange juice and fish are good sources of potassium.
Building strong bones can be the best defence against developing osteoporosis. Enjoy an active, physically independent and a healthy lifestyle. Whatever age you may be, you need to make deposits into your health savings account today, in order to prevent osteoporosis later in the future.
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