Combating Osteoporosis

by Lindsay Cayton
(Provo, UT, USA)

A concern for many aging women is osteoporosis. As we age our bone mineral density decreases causing bones to become more porous and brittle which then leads to an increased possibility of fractures. More women die each year from hip fractures than from breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer combined. However, the effects of osteoporosis can be decreased through dietary habits and participation in weight bearing activity.

It is a common practice in America for people to eat meat often and in large portions. However, intake of excessive animal proteins can have negative effects on the body. Excess protein causes a mild acidosis in the body which returns to its normal state by removing calcium from the bones.

It has also been found that high sodium intake will decrease calcium uptake. An intake of just 2300mg of sodium causes 80mg of calcium to be lost in the urine. Individuals who maintain high sodium and high animal protein diets need to intake up to 2000mg of calcium per day. The average American falls well below this required value. However, those who have a dietary intake low in sodium and animal protein only require 400mg of protein a day to maintain bone density.

Without the recommended amount of calcium bones weaken and osteoporosis can progress more quickly.

Another way to decrease the negative effects of osteoporosis is to participate in weight bearing activity. According to Wolff’s law, tissues placed under stress will grow and adapt to that stress; this law can be directly applied to bone.

During weight bearing exercise force is placed on the bones causing them to bend slightly. Skeletal tissue reacts to the stress by building thicker and stronger bone. Some activities that are effective at placing enough stress on the bone to create a response include weight lifting, tennis, volleyball, stair climbing, and step aerobics.

Activities that will not cause the desired stress are swimming and biking. Walking is only effective for individuals who were previously sedentary. Qualifying characteristics of bone building exercise are that it:

  • Involves faster, rather than slower, movement
  • Exceeds 70% of maximal capacity (70% of the one repetition maximum for weight lifting or 70% of maximum oxygen uptake which is equal to 80% of an individual’s max heart rate.)
  • Involves impact
  • Involves a variety of muscle groups and movement directions

    It is important for women to maintain or improve their bone density. Dietary habits such as eating low sodium and low animal protein foods decreases the amount of calcium lost from the bone.

    It is also necessary that individuals get enough calcium in their diet to decrease the effects of osteoporosis.

    Bone density can be increased by participating in weight bearing exercise.

    Osteoporosis is a deadly condition, but actions can be taken to decrease its effects.

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