World Osteoporosis Day - The Importance of Taking Care of Your Bones
- By Jay, Paquet's Nutritionist
World Osteoporosis Day falls on 20th October every year. On this day, we remind everyone of the importance of taking care of your bone health. Osteoporosis is a major public health problem, especially in an ageing society like Singapore. In fact, over the last 30 years in Singapore, cases of hip fractures have increased five times in women aged 50 and above, and one and a half times in men of the same age group. To make things worse, studies have shown that one in every five people with osteoporotic hip fractures died within a year.
Osteoporosis - What is that and what causes it?
Osteoporosis is a health condition that causes weakening of bones, resulting in an increased risk of fractures in patients. Your bone is a living tissue that changes constantly - new bone cells are made to replace and repair old and worn-out one. When your body is unable to replace these old and worn-out bone cells, your bone will become weaker and more prone to fractures, especially in the hip, spine and wrist.
The leading cause of this disease is when you do not have sufficient calcium in your body. Calcium is crucial in building strong bones. Every moment, you are losing calcium in your body through skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and faeces. As your body is not able to produce calcium, it is important that you get sufficient calcium from your food intake. For a good reference on how much calcium you should be taking, you can refer to this Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) chart here.
As a simple reference, the recommended daily dietary requirement for calcium is 800mg/day (at least 2-3 cups of milk). Most Singaporeans are not able to achieve that. The average calcium daily intake, based on a nationwide nutrition survey, was only at 627 mg. Furthermore, as you grow older, the ability of your body in absorbing calcium decreases. As a result, we can observe more old people having problems with their bones. It is common to see old people complaining about their joints aching when they are climbing the stairs.
A simple way to find out if you are lacking in nutrition is to take the health assessment created by Paquet. It can accurately identify the various health risk based on your lifestyle so that you know what to do to live healthier.
Osteoporosis Prevention - What can you do?
With a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Paquet discusses three solutions that can help to achieve stronger bones.
1. Having Regular Exercises to Strengthen your Bones
Studies have shown that regular exercises (weight-bearing exercises in particular) can help in strengthening our bones. Weight-bearing exercises are those activities that you do on your feet supporting your body weight. When you have such exercises, it will cause new bone tissue to form, strengthing your bone. Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include:
a. Walking, jogging, or running
b. Playing any sports that require you to run, jump or pivot (soccer, tennis, basketball)
c. Lifting weights
f. Climbing stairs
Weight-bearing exercises keep you grounded on your feet so that your legs carry your body weight. This strengthens both bones and muscles as your muscles push and tug against your bones.
While Singaporeans love to swim or ride their bicycles, it is important to note that these activities are not considered to be weight-bearing exercises, so they do not directly help to build bones. However, they do build stronger muscles, which in turn helps build strong bones.
2. Increase Calcium and Vitamin D Nutrients in Our Body
As mentioned above, the leading cause of Osteoporosis is the lack of calcium in our bodies. It is important to have a diet plan that includes calcium-rich food. The richest sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other good calcium sources are fish with edible bones, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
To aid with calcium absorption, you should also consider taking vitamin D. Studies have shown that Vitamin D can help to increase the rate of absorption of calcium. A good way of getting vitamin D is to be exposed to sunlight for 30 minutes a day, as your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. If you hate being under the sun, you should consider taking functional food that are fortified with vitamin D, such as certain dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Other fatty fishes, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, would also give you more vitamin D.
A simple solution is to also consider taking some form of supplements. Paquet provides Calcium + Vitamin D supplement that can help to strengthen your bones. At only $8 a month and increased convenience in consumption, you can simply take a pill daily to strengthen your bones. This can prevent the hassle of planning out your weekly meal and making sure that you have the right diet all the time.
3. Dropping the Bad Habits
Singapore is known for its bustling nightlife, club scenes and after-work parties. If you are guilty of smoking and taking in excessive alcohol, it is important to make sure that you are caring for your health in other ways. Smoking is the second-highest contributor to the burden of diseases afflicting Singaporeans, killing an estimated 2,073 people in 2016. Studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. If you are a smoker, it is important to cut down or take in more nutrients and minerals to ensure better bone health. Even if you are only a second-hand smoker, you have to be cautious too. With more and more smoke-free zones being set up, you should try to minimize contact with second-hand smokes as it is harmful to you. Drinking too much alcohol can also affect calcium absorption, resulting in bone loss. While it might be difficult to drop some of these bad habits, it is important that you continue to work on our health through other methods.
Lastly, due to the long working hours of Singaporeans, more and more people are relying on caffeine for energy. Studies have shown that too much caffeine can have a negative impact on calcium absorption. While caffeine is becoming an everyday go-to beverage for most, it can have a detrimental effect on your bone. There are better alternatives to taking caffeine to increase your overall energy levels and we should consider these options - such as having a proper sleeping routine or taking some vitamin Bs that can help to increase your overall energy levels.
Important Points to Note
1. Osteoporosis is becoming a common problem in Singapore. It is important for you to care for your bone health so that you can reduce the risk of such a disease. Prevention is always better than cure.
2. It is not difficult to reduce the risk of such diseases - simply do the right exercises, have a properly balanced diet and drop the bad habits.
3. Improving your bone health can be as simple as taking a supplement pill a day.
4. Start taking charge of your health. Your future self would be thankful for the decisions that you are making now.
When it comes to our bone health, prevention is always better than cure, especially when some illnesses have no cure. Once again, Paquet would like to remind Singaporeans about the importance of bone health. If not cared for properly, the risk of getting Osteoporosis increases as you grow older. To help Singaporeans understand more about their health, Paquet has come up with a proprietary health assessment that can identify the nutritional gap that one might have, as a result of their lifestyle.
To access this health assessment, you can simply click the link over here! (https://paquet.com.sg/assessment)