Osteoporosis is a potentially debilitating and even deadly ‘silent disease’. Osteoporosis affects twice as many women compared to men and doesn’t have any warning signs, it’s not painful and doesn’t restrict movement. Usually, the diagnosis of osteoporosis comes after suffering a fracture. But don’t worry! The good news is, osteoporosis isn’t an inevitable part of aging and we can prevent it!
Let’s just clear up exactly what osteoporosis is. The word ‘osteoporosis’ can be broken down into 2 parts, oseto = bone and poro = porous. Porous bone is weaker because it lacks the density found in healthy bone. Healthy bones are dense and strong. A decrease in bone density results in weaker, more brittle & fragile bones. Osteoporotic bones are therefore more likely to break if they are subjected to trauma.
Like every other tissue in our bodies, our bones are always being broken down and renewed. Old, weaker bone is broken down and newer, healthier bone is laid down in its place. This process is happening constantly, 10% of our skeleton is renewed every single year. This means that the oldest bone in your body is a maximum of 10 years old!
Osteoporosis is usually caused by a disruption to the body’s ability to successfully balance bone resorption and new bone formation. The body may fail to form enough new bone, or too much old bone may be reabsorbed, or both. One of the biggest causes of disruption to normal bone turnover is a lack of Vitamin D.
Everyone knows that we need enough calcium for healthy bones, but Vitamin D is just as important. Without sufficient levels of vitamin D, calcium will not be absorbed through the intestine from the food we eat. The calcium levels in our blood will therefore drop and the body will need to react. We need to maintain a certain calcium level in our blood.
Your body will have no choice but to start to break down bone, releasing the calcium within, it will then pull the calcium out from the bone and use it increase the level of calcium in the blood back to normal levels.
Our primary source of Vitamin D is sunlight. However, in the U.K. from the months of September to April the solar intensity is too low for us to make Vitamin D. Also, the use of sun cream, working indoors and wearing clothing means that even during the summer months many of us aren’t getting the sun exposure we need to absorb enough Vitamin D. We don’t get much vitamin D from food we eat either!
This can be remedied by utilising supplementation. I take a vitamin D supplement every day to ensure my bones stay as healthy as possible. There are also many other benefits of Vitamin D, but I’ll save that for a later post! Let me know if you have any questions!