Osteoporosis: Prevention and Beyond

The sooner you proactively take measures to maintain bone health, the better your bone health will be as you reach your 50s and beyond.

By URLife Team
20 Oct 2023

Osteoporosis is a condition that significantly weakens bones, making them susceptible to fractures. It's often referred to as a "silent disease" because those affected may not detect any changes until they experience a fracture, usually in the hip, spine, or wrist. The structure of bones is composed of living tissue, and their strength is maintained through a continuous cycle of breaking down old bone and replacing it with new. Osteoporosis arises when the rate of bone breakdown surpasses the rate of bone regeneration.


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The internal structure of a bone resembles a honeycomb. In cases of osteoporosis, the bone, forming the "walls" of this honeycomb, becomes thinner, while the spaces between the bone enlarge. This results in overall weakening of the bone structure.


In severe instances of osteoporosis, even seemingly innocuous actions like coughing or minor bumps can lead to bone fractures. These fractures can be debilitating, and individuals with osteoporosis often face challenges in recovering from such injuries, sometimes experiencing persistent pain. Fractures of the hip and spine are particularly concerning, as they can lead to a loss of mobility and independence, particularly in older adults.


Women have lower bone density compared to men, and the gradual loss of oestrogen over time further raises the risk of developing osteoporosis. According to a 2022 study by the National Institute on Ageing, osteoporosis affects about one in five women over age 50, but only one in 20 men. Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in the late 40s to early 50s, and one of its significant effects on the body is the impact on bone health. Menopause accelerates bone loss, particularly in the trabecular bone (the spongy inner part of bones). This can result in decreased bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Reduced bone density and the structural changes in bone composition during menopause can lead to an increased risk of fractures, especially in the hip, spine, and wrist.


Preventive Steps for Preserving Bone Health

1. Building a Strong Foundation in Childhood

Nutrition plays a crucial role in childhood for bone health. During childhood and adolescence, bones are growing and developing rapidly. Building strong bones during these formative years is essential for preventing bone problems later in life, such as osteoporosis. By providing proper nutrition in childhood and promoting healthy eating habits, you can help children develop strong and healthy bones, setting the foundation for a lifetime of good bone health.

(a) Incorporate Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is the primary building block of bones. Adequate calcium intake during childhood is crucial for optimal bone development. The recommended daily intake of calcium varies by age, but it's important to ensure that children get enough calcium from their diet or supplements.

  • Encourage a diet rich in calcium during childhood and adolescence, as this is a critical time for bone development.
  • Include dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cheese in daily meals.
  • Offer calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
  • Include leafy greens, almonds, and fortified cereals as non-dairy sources of calcium.


(b) Sufficient levels of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Without sufficient vitamin D, the calcium from the diet is not utilised effectively. The body can produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Encourage outdoor activities to ensure that children receive adequate sun exposure.

  • Ensure your child gets sufficient vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.
  • Include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel in their diet.
  • If necessary, consult a healthcare provider about vitamin D supplements.


Related Post: Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D


(c) Include Physical Activity

Emphasise the importance of regular physical activity for overall health and bone development. Enroll them in activities like gymnastics, dance, or team sports to promote bone strength and coordination.

  • Encourage children to engage in activities like running, jumping, and playing sports that involve impact on bones.
  • Choose age-appropriate exercises and sports that align with your child's development.
  • Ensure they use proper protective gear when participating in high-impact sports.


2. Adulthood: Maintaining Bone Health

Bones provide structural safeguard for vital organs, anchor muscles, and serve as a reservoir for calcium. Bone tissue is in a constant state of change, with new bone being formed while old bone is broken down. During youth, the body's bone formation outpaces bone breakdown, resulting in an increase in bone mass. For most individuals, peak bone mass is typically achieved around the age of 30. However, after this point, the process of bone remodelling continues, with a slight net loss of bone mass over time.


You can help maintain and even improve your bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as you age.


(a) Healthy Diet Choices

Get the right amount of calcium. As per a 2023 study issued in Hopkins Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance of calcium in adults is 1,000 mg for women 50 and younger. Increase bone-essential nutrients such as magnesium calcium, vitamin D and K. Including sources like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens in your diet. For vitamin K, consume foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and kale.


(b) Avoiding Smoking and Excessive Alcohol

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures. If you smoke, consider quitting. Seek support and resources to help you quit. Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels, as excessive drinking can have negative effects on bone health.


(c) Sunlight Exposure for Vitamin D

As per a 2022 study issued in Mayo Clinics, for adults ages 19 to 70, the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day.  Add mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods, such as milk and cereals, in your diet as these are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also contributes to the body's production of vitamin D. 


(d) Fall Prevention

As you age, preventing falls becomes increasingly important, as fractures can be a significant concern. Make your home safer by removing tripping hazards and ensuring good lighting. Engage in balance and flexibility exercises to reduce the risk of falls.


(e) Don’t Forget Exercise

Exercise has the remarkable ability to stimulate the cells responsible for bone formation. To support and strengthen your bones, consider incorporating weight-bearing and resistance exercises into your routine, aiming for at least 3 to 4 sessions each week. Activities like walking, running, dancing, aerobics, hiking, and tennis are excellent examples of weight-bearing exercises that can help maintain bone health. 


Related Post: Vitamin D Deficiency: What You Need To Know


3. Older Age: Maintaining and Adapting

As you advance into older age, maintaining and adapting your lifestyle to support bone health becomes increasingly important. Nutrition continues to be a critical factor in preventing and managing osteoporosis. Given the potential complexities of nutrition in older age, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to tailor your dietary choices to your specific needs. By paying attention to these nutritional considerations in older age, you can continue to preserve and protect your bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and associated issues.


(a) Maintain Bone-essential Nutrition

Continue to ensure an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D to support bone health. Calcium-rich foods like dairy products, fortified plant-based options, and vitamin D sources such as fatty fish remain crucial. As per a 2023 study issued in Hopkins Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance of calcium in adults is 1,200 mg for women 51 and older. Regularly assess your calcium and vitamin D levels and consult with a healthcare provider regarding supplements if necessary. 


(b) Increase Protein Intake

Maintain an appropriate level of protein intake. Protein is essential for muscle strength and overall health. The recommended daily protein intake can vary depending on individual factors such as age, activity level, and overall health goals. As per a 2023 study issued in Hopkins Medicine, 0.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight, is one common guideline. In the case of a 60 kg woman, this would suggest a daily protein intake of approximately 56 grams. Protein can be obtained from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds.


(c) Exercise for Seniors

As older seniors, exercise becomes even more vital for maintaining bone health, overall fitness, and well-being. By incorporating low-impact exercises like yoga and Tai Chi, as well as strength and balance training into your routine.

  • Yoga: Yoga is gentle, that can improve flexibility, balance, and strength. It can improve your posture, enhance your range of motion, and help alleviate stress and anxiety.
  • Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a slow and flowing martial art that emphasises balance and coordination. It's an excellent option for seniors, as it enhances muscle strength, flexibility, and relaxation.
  • Strength and Balance Training: Strength and balance training exercises are particularly crucial for seniors as they reduce the risk of falls and fractures, which can be a significant concern in older age.


Related Post: 7 Easy Ways To Get Enough Calcium When You’re Vegan


Implementing Preventive Measures in Daily Life

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and carbonated beverages, as excessive consumption may affect calcium absorption.
  • Reduce sodium intake, as high levels of sodium can lead to calcium loss through urine.
  • For postmenopausal women, hormone replacement therapy may be an option to help maintain bone density. Consult your doctor to evaluate its benefits and risks.
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques, as high stress levels can negatively impact bone health.
  • Get adequate sleep, as rest is essential for bone repair and regeneration.
  • Keep yourself informed about the latest developments in bone health and osteoporosis prevention through reputable sources and healthcare professionals.


The importance of taking a proactive approach to maintain and enhance bone health at different stages of life. By implementing these preventive measures and strategies early like making healthy dietary choices, avoiding detrimental habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, we can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as we age.  It's never too early or too late to take action and safeguard our bones. Remember that preserving bone health is a lifelong commitment. Taking these preventive steps early on and consistently can go a long way in ensuring strong and healthy bones as you age.


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have osteoporosis. Taking regular health checks can help detect osteoporosis  at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.



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