Preventing osteoporosis: keeping our bones strong.

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Disease often remains undiscovered for a long time
As the Bundesselbsthilfeverband für Osteoporose e.V. explains on its website, about 80 percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women. They often fall ill after the menopause in particular, because the lowered estrogen level has a negative effect on bone metabolism. In more than 50 percent of all male patients, other underlying diseases or their treatment are to blame for osteoporosis.

According to a report from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), osteoporosis is one of the ten most common diseases worldwide, and in Germany, around seven million people suffer from it. Prof. Dr. Michael Amling, Head of the Institute of Osteology and Biomechanics (IOBM) at the UKE, explains how bone health can be strengthened.

Millions of people suffer from osteoporosis. The disease can severely restrict the quality of life, especially in old age. But bone loss can be prevented. A physician explains how to do this.

According to experts, this so-called secondary osteoporosis is often due to the intake of cortisone preparations and/or a diet low in calcium. Smoking and alcohol abuse also cause the skeleton to become brittle. Osteoporosis, a disease of the skeleton in which the bones lose strength and break more easily, “often remains undetected for a long time and only then reveals itself through fractures of the hip, vertebral bodies or wrist,” explains Amling.

“Anything that strengthens the bone serves as a preventive measure. For example, risk factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided and the body weight should be within the normal range,” says Prof. Dr. Michael Amling. “A bone-friendly lifestyle begins with a calcium-rich, balanced diet, regular physical exercise and a sufficient supply of vitamin D,” says the physician. According to the expert, vitamin D is of crucial importance for the body to be able to absorb calcium from food. When calcium deficiency occurs, the body attacks the calcium reserves of the skeleton and “we lose bones!

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), vitamin D is formed in the skin (80 to 90 percent) for the most part when exposed to sunlight, more precisely UV-B radiation. It is necessary to stay outside, because staying in bright rooms is not enough because the UV-B components in sunlight cannot penetrate through the glass in window panes.

Taking dietary supplements with vitamin D is only recommended for a few people. As the consumer center writes on its website, an additional food supplement with vitamin D is only recommended in exceptional cases (for example, when you are bedridden or fully veiled outdoors) in consultation with a doctor. An overdose can lead to serious health problems such as nausea, headaches, reduced muscle tone and even kidney failure.

The diet contributes only a relatively small proportion of the vitamin D supply, estimated at around 10 to 20 percent. One reason for this is that only a few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D (e.g. fatty sea fish, certain offal, edible mushrooms, eggs), which are consumed in Germany only rarely or in small quantities, according to the RKI.

Sport also has a very large influence on bone health: “An individually adapted mix of endurance, strength and balance training is the best option, but any everyday physical activity is also recommended,” explains Prof. Dr. Michael Amling. “In addition to the targeted training of muscles and sense of balance, older people in particular should strengthen their coordination and surefootedness,” he says. “This can easily be built into everyday life, i.e. climbing stairs as often as possible, taking short distances on foot and taking regular walks”. Possible stumbling blocks in the home environment, such as slipping runners, creases in the carpet, loose cables or uneven door thresholds, should be eliminated. (ad)

How to prevent osteoporosis
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