World Osteoporosis Day
It was World Osteoporosis Day on October 20th 2011, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation put on a great event, here is a great recap about the IOF report ‘Three Steps to Unbreakable Bones’ for World Osteoporosis Day.
Eating well, ensuring sufficient vitamin D and staying physically active are two essential components of a healthy lifestyle. These are also the pillars of osteoporosis prevention at all stages of life. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari outlines the three steps to unbreakable bones in the 2011 World Osteoporosis Day report.
This year’s theme of the World’s Osteoporosis Day is Prevention. We want people to be aware that there are 3 important pillars of prevention: One being Vitamin D, the other being a healthy nutrition rich in calcium and protein, and the third pillar being exercise. Important is that if we manage to bring the pillars together, to do a healthy diet, get enough Vitamin D, and exercise, we enhance the benefit for strong bones and muscles.
Bone and muscles are a team in osteoporosis prevention. If we want to prevent osteoporosis in the best possible way, we want to target bone and muscle, because having healthy muscles and strong muscles will also help us to maintain bone mineral density and to prevent the risk of fractures. For example if we have good muscles, we will reduce the risk of falling, and falling is the most important risk factor for fractures. That becomes especially important in the senior population, where falling is a very
frequent event. If we prevent the fall, we prevent the fracture.
Today, we understand the important role of Vitamin D and the prevention of osteoporosis; knowing that Vitamin D has two benefits on osteoporosis prevention. It has a benefit on calcium absorption and increasing bone mineral density, but in addition, it has a direct effect on muscle strength, reducing the risk of falling. We have data today to suggest that Vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of fractures and falls by 20%. This is a highly cost-effective public health strategy because Vitamin D is very inexpensive, it is safe, and it can be applied to a broad population.
The main source of Vitamin D is sunshine. We can produce Vitamin D in our skin by exposing our skin to the sun. The problem is that this is not a reliable source because we’re not enough outside. There is seasonality, we wear sun protection or we have a darker skin tone. As we age, we produce less Vitamin D if we expose our skin to the sun.
Calcium and protein are important factors for bone and muscle health. Calcium is the main structural component of our bones, and it is important to get sufficient calcium throughout the lifecycle. The best sources of calcium are nutritional sources from milk products. Alternatively, there is calcium in nuts, but also, in some small fish where we eat the bones, and in addition, we get the benefit from the high-quality protein.
The most important exercises for bone are the ones where we load our skeleton, the weight-bearing and resistance exercises, such as walking briskly, jumping, dancing, and lifting weights. My message to maintain strong bones and muscles at all ages is to take advantage and do the 3 pillars of prevention. 1. A healthy nutrition rich in calcium and protein, 2. Add Vitamin D, 3. Exercise. Stay active.