Osteoporosis is a painful, often debilitating, disease that causes the bones to become weak and puts us at higher risk of fractures as we grow older. Nutrition plays a big role in bone health, but the sad irony is, once we realize our bones have become brittle and porous, we’ve already passed our optimum years for building bone density.
For this year’s World Osteoporosis Day, held on October 20, experts from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) released a report that emphasizes the importance of lifelong, age-appropriate nutritional emphasis, from before birth through old age.
Published in the journal Osteoporosis International, the study summarized the latest findings on the bone-protecting nutritional needs of mothers, children, adolescents, adults and seniors. With an emphasis on calcium, vitamin D and protein, the study showed that the goal in childhood and adolescence is to build the best bone mass we can, given our genes. In adulthood, the goal is to avoid premature bone loss. And for seniors, preventing and treating osteoporosis is the focus.
“This new report shows just how important nutrition is for our bone health throughout life,” said Professor Cyrus Cooper, chair of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors. “In fact, nutrition plays a key role in the development of a healthy skeleton even before birth. Healthy maternal diets as well as adequate vitamin D levels are associated with greater bone mass in the offspring.”
The study authors reported that many children fail to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Adults, too, may be deficient, and many make lifestyle choices that lead to lower bone density, such as smoking, drinking too much, and being too overweight or underweight. Seniors in particular may be suffering from malnutrition.
We can expect to see more osteoporosis in the near future. Said Professor Bess Dawson Hughes of Tufts University’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, “The baby boomer generation is aging and, as a result, age-related musculoskeletal diseases are imposing an increasingly costly burden on society and healthcare systems worldwide. This report shows how we can tap the potential of healthy nutrition within a systematic life-course approach to support osteoporosis and fracture prevention.”
The study authors say that improving the diet of seniors, along with exercise and in some cases medication, can reduce the risk of debilitating falls and fractures. They have created a free consumer booklet based on the study findings, Healthy Nutrition, Healthy Bones, which covers the various life stages and ways older adults can avoid falls and fractures. The booklet is available in nine languages, which you can find here.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on materials from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.