Osteoporosis: Build Your Bone Bank in 5 Easy Steps

Osteoporosis simply means porous bones. One of the most common bone disorders, nearly 6 crore Indians suffer from osteoporosis. One in every two Indian women more than 45 years of age suffers from osteoporosis. Both men and women suffer from osteoporosis, but women are four times more prone.

There is no substitute to eating right. Many do not consume the recommended amounts of calcium (4 servings of calcium rich foods/day). Health professionals must promote diet and exercise patterns that promote optimal calcium levels.

Besides dairy, soy has been found to be a useful source of calcium and bone building nutrients. Intake of soy protein promotes bone formation, reverses bone loss, and prevents osteoporosis. Though, food is the best source of calcium; however, calcium supplements and calcium-fortified foods can fill the gap, ensuring that the daily calcium requirement is met. The amount needed from a supplement depends on how much calcium is consumed from food sources.

Build your Bone Bank by following these tips:

Invest in low fat dairy and dairy products including yogurt, cottage cheese (paneer). You may add grated cheese/paneer to your steamed vegetables, casseroles, and soups.

Encourage intake of soya and soya products like tofu, soya milk, and soya snacks. Prepare soups with seaweeds, tofu, and miso.

Include nuts and seeds. Grind roasted sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, almonds, nuts and mix with fruits, salad or sprinkle over cereal.

Include calcium rich foods such as bengal gram, red beans, fish, sea food, ragi, amaranth (chaulai), dates, fenugreek leaves, and lotus stem.

Most calcium supplements are effective and calcium carbonate is least expensive. It is generally believed that calcium citrate/lactate/gluconate may be more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate. Also, avoid consuming iron supplements with calcium, as it interferes with iron absorption. Supplements must be consumed under professional supervision, as excessive calcium intake (>2500 mg/day) may cause constipation, intestinal bloating, excess flatulence and kidney stones.

Exercise regularly throughout life. Walking, cycling, biking and certain similar exercises are most beneficial in retaining calcium in bones. Participate in at least 3 hours of physical activity a week.

 At least 30 minutes exposure to sunlight helps meet vitamin D requirements, which further promotes calcium absorption and maintain good bone health.

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