Saturday, July 29, 2006

One of the most common problems in women with advancing age is pain in the joints, particularly those of the hind limbs. Sometimes a minor injury or fall might lead to a fracture. This is due to a condition called Osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
It occurs due to deficiency of calcium and vitamin D in the diet.
Calcium helps in the development of bones and teeth in association with phosphorous. It is mainly obtained in the diet through milk and leafy vegetables.
Vitamin D is required for bone growth and calcium metabolism. Its role is vital in absorption of dietary calcium from the intestine and its deposition in the bones. It is formed in the skin by UV rays of the sunlight. Hence the most inexpensive and practical source of getting Vit. D is exposure to sunlight for a few minutes daily.
Osteoporosis is a kind of bone deformity common in older people. Clinically there is low back pain, loss of bone mass as a result of which the bones become susceptible to fracture.

Osteoporosis And Women
Bones comprise of inorganic salts mostly calcium and phosphorous. After 45 years of age i.e. post menopause, women often complain about pain in their joints. This is due to hormonal imbalance. As a result, the amount of calcium in the body is reduced. To maintain a steady calcium level in serum, the required amount of it gets pulled out from the bones, hence weakening them.

Causes of Osteoporosis
Bone tumour
Disease of thyroid gland
Hormonal imbalances
Deficiency of calcium
Deficiency of Vit. D

Consumption of milk and milk products help a great deal in prevention of osteoporosis since milk is a rich source of calcium.
A glass of milk can be consumed in the morning on rising or at bedtime before retiring.
Milk can also be used in the form of sweet dishes and desserts like custard, pudding, shakes etc.
Milk porridge can be consumed in breakfast.
To have Milk with cornflakes in breakfast is a good option.
If you don’t like the taste of milk, it can be used for kneading the dough for making chapattis.
Milk can also be consumed as curd.
Curd can be used for making curries.
Another option is cottage cheese (paneer).

Other sources of calcium
Green leafy vegetables
Roots – Tapioca is a good source
Cereals – Ragi is particularly rich in calcium.
Each day, the body loses calcium in the urine, feces, and sweat. These losses have to be replaced by calcium in the diet. If calcium in the diet is not sufficient to cover these losses, the body takes calcium from the bones. Over time, insufficient calcium in the diet leads to negative calcium balance and bone loss (osteoporosis). Adequate calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis and increase bone mass and strength.

The levels of calcium intake recommended by The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis are:
800 mg/day for children ages 1-10
1000 mg/day for men, premenopausal women, and postmenopausal women also taking estrogen
1200 mg/day for teenagers and young adults ages 11- 24
1500 mg/day for post menopausal women not taking estrogen
1200mg-1500 mg/day for pregnant and nursing mothers
These recommended levels of calcium intake are meant for all people, not just for those with established osteoporosis. Unfortunately, I am afraid that Americans overall are not taking in enough calcium. Surveys have shown that the average woman in the United States receives less than 500 milligrams of calcium per day in her diet.
Hence it is extreamly important to include sufficient amount of calcium in the diet in order to maintain the health of bones and prevent osteoporosis.


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