The NHS informs that osteoporosis is a health condition that makes bones weak, which makes them fragile and more likely to break.
Osteoporosis is usually diagnosed after 50 years of age when one suffers back pain, poster change or fractures. However, years before such symptoms appear, it can affect your bones without any visible signs.
Thus, experts advise taking care of your bones from a young age by consuming a diet rich in vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, protein, and magnesium.
Dr Chetna Jain, Alumnus of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon, Haryana, India reportedly said, “Unlike earlier times modern women spend most of their time indoors. Even when outdoors, they protect their skin from sunlight by wearing gloves, hat, mask, long sleeves, and sunscreen. This leads to poor Vitamin D formation, hence poor calcium absorption.”
“Calcium is needed to maintain the strength of bones and teeth. It’s important for the functioning of the heart, nerves, and blood clotting. When dietary calcium is inadequate, the body will use calcium from bones and render them fragile, weak, and osteoporotic,” Dr Jain said.
A 2021 review reported that the worldwide prevalence of osteoporosis among women was around 23.1%, while the prevalence of osteoporosis among men was found to be 11.7%
According to research by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), bone size and width are greater in men. A previous report published by Apollo 24/7 informs that men also accumulate more skeletal mass during growth in comparison to women.
As women’s bones are smaller in diameter with thinner cortexes, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis. For this reason, maintaining optimal bone and joint health is very important, especially for women.
Experts suggest, the best way of doing that is by adding healthy food items to your daily diet.
Dr Jain states that it is important for women to eat foods rich in calcium from an early age. Therefore, to prevent osteoporosis, she recommends various calcium-rich foods like the following:
• Dairy products such as cottage cheese, cow milk and curd are rich in calcium. Goat milk is good but it is not commonly used.
• Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard, and arugula are good sources of calcium and contain vitamins C, E, K and B. These vegetables are also rich in manganese and magnesium.
• Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame, chia, and flax seeds contain zinc, magnesium, calcium and so on.
• Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts etc. are good sources of vitamins C, E, K and folate.
• Fortified foods like soy, almond milk, flour, bread, orange juices etc. are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. You can add to your diet to increase your calcium intake.
• Figs and prunes in both fresh and dried forms are rich in calcium.
• Tofu is also rich in calcium and has isoflavone which helps retain bone health.
• Eggs and fish are also rich sources of calcium. While eggs contain magnesium and zinc, fishes like salmon and sardines with bones are rich in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
It’s important to note that certain things like phytic acid which is found in raw beans and grains, and oxalic acid found in spinach can act as a hindrance in the absorption of calcium. Sodium too can reportedly increase the loss of calcium from the body.
Other essential foods you should include for bone health apart from calcium are as follows:
• Vitamin D that comes from daily exposure to sunlight
• Protein through soybean and soy products fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
• Phosphorus found in dairy products, nuts, fish, eggs, meat, and cereal
• Potassium and magnesium from baked sweet potato
• Vitamin C from oranges and grapefruit
Things to avoid
Quit smoking – Nicotine in tobacco slows down the production of bone-forming cells. It also, slows down the blood flow to the bones and make them brittle.
Cut down on added sugar – Cookies, processed foods and soft drinks flush out calcium and magnesium in urine, prevents absorption of calcium from the intestine and displace important nutrients from the diet.
Limit alcohol intake – Heavy drinking could lead to fractures and falls. It interferes with osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) which prevents bone formation and repair.