Your skeletal system comprises of 206 immaculately placed bones that provide you all the kinds of functionalities. Imagine if a firm handshake or a little slip on the pavement could put you, or your children, at risk of fracture. While the possibility is scary, it can also be true if you have ‘Osteoporosis’. A skeletal disorder that disrupts the normal functioning of bone architecture and opens it to low-trauma fractures, osteoporosis can happen to anyone, at any age. However, women over the age of 50 are the most susceptible, with one in every two being at risk for this bone disease.
From start till the pain!
Bone formation and shaping begins in the womb: our bodies add and reabsorb bone, reaching peak bone mass in young adulthood. The average human has enough bone mass and density to carry on routine physical activities. In patients of osteoporosis, however, bone mass begins to fall to levels at which even the most basic physical exertion can cause serious problems. How does this happen?
The key element and what happens to it!
The human bone consists of small rod-shaped tissue elements called Trabeculae, which connect with each other in a honeycomb structure to form the basis of our skeletons; and a cortical covering which forms its hard outer covering. “In osteoporosis, the trabeculae becomes thin and break, leading to loss of connections between them,” says Dr. Ashok Bhalla, of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.
When bone mass diminishes, the trabecular structure develop holes, resulting in fewer and less connective Trabeculae, while the cortical covering becomes thinner and more breakable. In serious cases, patients can fracture their ribs just from sneezing.
When we talk about bones, we talk about Calcium!
The human bone consists of calcium and phosphorous crystals, laid out in a network of collagen fibers. 2-4% of the human skeleton is absorbed and rebuilt each year, through special cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The first set is triggered by the hormone calcitonin to build bones through the deposition of calcium phosphate; the second are trigged by the Parathyroid hormone (PTH) to the break them down through calcium release. 67% of bone weight comes from calcium; and studies show that calcium sufficiency and metabolism are essential in ensuring our bodies do not undergo a net loss of calcium.
The Immensely important Vitamin!
Closely linked to this is the role of Vitamin D, which facilitates calcium hemostasis and metabolism. In three separate studies co-conducted by Boonen, Chapuy and Sahota, low levels of levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D were found to lead to an increase in the secretion of PTH, resulting in faster bone re-absorption.
And, when they both get together!
There is clear evidence that calcium and Vitamin D both play a role in the prevention and effective management of osteoporosis. In a research paper co-authored by Rene Rizzoli of the Hospital of Geneva, the researchers found that osteoporosis cannot be effectively managed without the use of both. However, this then leads to the question of how to best supplement your diet with calcium and Vitamin D. Research suggests that using calcium or Vitamin D alone is not as effective in preventing and managing osteoporosis, as combining the two. In a meta-analysis of over 53000 patients, Dr. Boonen found that using vitamin D supplements, without complementing them with calcium, did not cause an important decrease in the risk of hip fracture; however, a combined supplementation of the two brought down the risk of hip and non-vertebral fractures by 25% and 23% respectively.
Optimal consumption levels required
What are the doses of vitamin D and calcium you should be taking, if you want to prevent and manage osteoporosis? In a research on vitamin consumption for bone health, Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, Director of the Bone Metabolism Laboratory at the Tufts University School of Medicine, found that the optimal level of Hydroxy vitamin D in the body varied between 50 and 80 nmol/l, in order to prevent low-trauma fracture. On average, women below 50 should consume 1000 mg of calcium daily, while those above 50 should consume 1200; while men below and above 70 should consume 1000 and 1200 mg respectively. Where vitamin D is concerned, both men and women below 50 should consume 600-800 IU every day, while those over 50 should consume between 800-1000.
Why not keep a check on your lifestyle!
While supplementing your diet with Calcium and Vitamin D is proven to bring down risk of osteoporosis, as well as catalyze effective treatment in patients, Osteoporosis is a disease of multiple variables. Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption, for example, can increase your risk of falling prey to this bone disease. Even extended working hours can affect your back and you can get prone to catching this disease.
Try to avoid any inconsistency in your schedule in order to stay away from this serious disorder. Make sure you’re sleeping adequately for the day and your sleeping posture isn’t doing any harm to you. Sometimes, just the lack of a quality mattress can be such a nuisance that you rise the next day feeling your back and spinal cord absolutely stiff. SleepJunkie.org provides the top mattress articles available today so that you buy the best out of the lot.
If you are susceptible to or have osteoporosis, make sure to consult your medical provider to address all the variables relevant to you. It’s better to avoid this thing then to treat it, so get yourself ahead of time for a better and healthy life.