August 07, 2018
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones and reduces their resistance to breaking and fracture. The bone loss and bone fragility is caused by an imbalance between bone tissue formation and resorption, leaving the internal bone structure thin and hollow. Osteoporosis is recognized as a public health problem and often referred to as a "silent epidemic" because it poses a greater risk of fractures to major bones such as femur, hip, wrist and spine.
Osteoporosis affects approximately 40% of women, and only about 8% of men. The risk of osteoporosis spikes when women go through menopause and this risk can continue to increase throughout life. One-third of these women are at risk of having a fracture secondary to osteoporosis.
The decline in estrogen occurring during menopause results in an increase in the rate of bone remodeling, leading to a direct loss of bone and resulting osteoporosis. Estrogen drop-off also directly impacts collagen levels, causing a decline in the scaffolding collagen found in bone tissue. Collagen provides the structure for minerals to bind to, ensuring strong bones. Without this essential framework bones become weak, brittle and are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease that frequently goes unnoticed because it rarely causes pain or manifestations and is often discovered only after a fracture.
Signs of osteoporosis include:
A definitive diagnosis of osteoporosis can be determined with the aid of an Osteodensitometer, which measures the density and mineral content of bones. This examination allows for early detection of the disease and makes it possible to monitor the evolution of osteoporosis during treatment.
Regular physical activity helps prevent osteoporosis. The force of muscles pulling on bone poses a stress inside the bone that results in the body laying down new tissue, specifically collagen, in the stressed area. Exercise also maintains muscle strength and balance, thus decreasing the risk of falling and fracture.
Moderate intensity weight-bearing exercises are recommended 30 minutes per day, 5 times a weeks to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Some of these activities include: walking briskly, dancing, running, weight-lifting and recreational sports.
Calcium helps build and maintain bone mass. Calcium in the diet is provided largely by milk and dairy products. The WHO recommends taking at least three servings of dairy products each day in the form of milk, cottage cheese, cheese or yoghurt. Calcium supplementation may be necessary in cases of deficiency or intolerances to dairy products.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the bone. It increases the body's ability to absorb calcium from food. Vitamin D is synthesized mainly by the body through the action of the sun on the skin and is found in oily fish, eggs, liver and fortified dairy products. Supplementation of Vitamin D is extremely important for the elderly and anyone living in a climate with low levels of direct sunlight. A simple blood test from your doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for Vitamin D supplements.
The organic matrix of the bone is essentially composed of collagen which gives bone flexibility and strength. Type I collagen (produced by osteoblasts) is particularly important for the mechanical strength of bones because of its ability to withstand tension. Gram for Gram type 1 collagen fibrils are stronger than steel.
Several studies have shown that taking marine collagen supplements results in a significant increase in bone mass and a decrease in the number of fractures in subjects with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a common and disabling disease that can significantly impact quality of life. Prevention of this progressive condition is possible by incorporating well known protective measures into our daily lives.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, healthy eating habits, sufficient calcium and vitamin D and daily supplementation with a high-quality collagen supplement will provide the strongest defense against the development of osteoporosis.