DIET AND VITAMINS
Your doctor may advise you to change your diet or add dietary supplements. To ensure that your body can counteract osteoporosis, medications for osteoporosis are often accompanied by calcium and vitamin D supplements:
Adequate calcium intake is essential in restoring bone health, as calcium is a major building block of bone. Choose calcium-rich foods and if dairy products upset your stomach, try other calcium-rich foods such as fish with soft bones (ikan bilis, sardines) or tofu. To maximise calcium absorption, avoid eating too much protein or salt, as large quantities of these are related to a loss of calcium.
Vitamin D is the key to unlocking the benefits of calcium – it helps the body absorb calcium. The best way to obtain sufficient vitamin D is 30 minutes of outdoor sunshine a day. Nonetheless, a recent study conducted in 18 countries worldwide found vitamin D inadequacy to be widespread among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, even in countries where there is ample sunlight.
Even if you have a calcium-enriched diet, your body cannot absorb the calcium consumed unless you have enough vitamin D. Inadequate vitamin D in the body contributes to bone loss and hinders efforts to combat osteoporosis.
You should aim to exercise at moderate intensity, at least 5 times a week, for 30 minutes each time, and always with warm-up and cool-down exercises. Include a variety of activities to keep all parts of the body exercised, and discuss with our doctor an exercise program that is suitable for you. It may include:
- Resistance exercises such as light weight-training, which may help maintain bone health by strengthening the muscles around them.
- Weight-bearing exercises including brisk walking, stair climbing, dancing, or those that require your bones and muscles to work gently against gravity.
- Non-weight-bearing exercises such as tai chi, swimming or other water exercises, which may help prevent back strain and pain by building your trunk and leg muscles.
Lifestyle modifications can be crucial to successfully treating and preventing osteoporosis – your doctor may suggest that you:
- Stop smoking – smoking may increase your chance of getting osteoporosis, and many other diseases
- Reduce your alcohol intake – heavy alcohol intake is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis, and injuries that can cause fractures.
How to prevent falls:
- Always anchor rugs and carpets
- Ensure that rooms are well-lit
- Conceal all electrical and telephone cords to avoid tripping over them
- A flashlight by your bed is helpful at night. Check the batteries often
- Stairways should have railing and non-slip surfaces
- Grab bars and other aids, such as night-lights, are especially helpful in bathrooms
- Use non-slip mats or adhesive strips in your tub or on your shower floor
- Ensure chairs and couches are easy to get in and out of
Further Prevention of Spinal Problems
Osteoporosis can cause the vertebrae in your spine to collapse. To prevent or lessen such spinal problems:
- Practice good posture
- Use proper techniques if you need to lift heavy objects – bend your knees instead of your back to reach low down items
- Do back exercises to help your posture
- Lie on your back when you have pain