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    The beneficial aspects of diet and nutrition on osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis is defined as a condition in which bone mass and structure are altered resulting in bones becoming weak and in turn leading to an increased risk of fractures. Much research has been carried out into the condition and many drugs such as bisphosphonates, Selected Estrogen Receptor Modulator Raloxifene and estrogens have been developed to help treat osteoporosis.

    However for many people, especially those that have been diagnosed with osteopenia and those who carry few of the osteoporosis risk factors it may be possible to combat osteoporosis by changes in diet and by taking an exercise regime that includes weight bearing and balancing exercises such as walking, dancing, gardening and Tai Chi; it is recommended to take at least 30 minutes of weight bearing exercises a day.

    The importance of diet in combating osteoporosis

    It is often said that you are what your eat. If this is the case it should be remembered that the bone is mainly composed of calcium. It can therefore be seen straight away that calcium is likely to be a key component of any diet designed to prevent osteoporosis. A list of calcium rich foods is given. However it may be necessary to take calcium supplements. Ideally you should aim to consume 1200mg of calcium per day if you have been diagnosed as having a low bone mineral density.

    Another key component that is involved in the maintenance of bones is vitamin D. This vitamin is synthesised by the body in the skin through interactions with sunlight, and 15 minutes is usually enough exposure for people to get all the vitamin D that they need. However as people get older the efficiency of the biosynthesis of Vitamin D decreases meaning it may be necessary to take vitamin D supplements. If you have been diagnosed with low bone mass you should aim to get 400 to 800 ID of vitamin D per day.

    Calcium and vitamin D are the two main nutrients required for combating osteoporosis. However many other nutrients such as Vitamin K are also known to be beneficial, as is the consumption of tea, which contains antioxidant polyphenols such as theaflavin and catechins. It is therefore a good idea to take a well balanced osteoporosis diet, rich in fruit and vegetables along with added calcium and vitamin D (supplements if necessary) in a diet designed to treat osteoporosis.


    Brender (2005) JAMA patient page: vitamin D. JAMA..: 2386 to 2387.
    Cashman (2007). Diet, Nutrition and Bone Health. Journal of Nutrition. Supplement: 2507S to 2512S
    Mayes (2007). Review of post menopausal osteoporosis pharmacology. Nutr. Clin. Prac. 22:3: 276 to 285