Love your bones on World Osteoporosis Day

The National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa (NOFSA) is calling all South Africans to love their bones on World Osteoporosis Day, celebrated worldwide on October 20 to promote awareness of osteoporosis.

Under its theme “Love Your Bones: Protect Your Future”, World Osteoporosis Day 2016 calls on the general public to take early action to protect their bone and muscle health, and for health authorities and physicians to help protect the bone health of their communities.

According to Teréza Hough, chief executive officer of NOFSA, the progressive bone loss that occurs with osteoporosis may be invisible and painless, but this silent epidemic can result in fractures which cause pain, disability, and ultimately loss of independence or even premature death. It is estimated that in South Africa, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will possibly develop osteoporosis.

“This disease leads to bones becoming more susceptible to fractures, especially those of the spine, forearm (wrists) and the hip (the worst complication of osteoporosis). It is known as the ‘silent epidemic’ as there are usually no visible symptoms until a bone fractures, which can of course be extremely painful and can even lead to death in some cases (hip fractures can ultimately lead to death in approximately 30% of the patient population),” said Ms Hough.

Despite effective advances in diagnosis, assessment and interventions to reduce fracture risk, a minority of men and women actually receive treatment for osteoporosis.

NOFSA also confirms that there is a serious misconception that osteoporosis is a normal part of ageing. Although it is mostly age related, it is not exclusive to the senior population, and more importantly, it can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, which includes:

Getting regular exercise.

Following a diet that is rich in Calcium and Vitamin D.

Avoiding smoking and the consumption of too much alcohol (not more than two drinks per day).

A healthy body weight during childhood and adolescence leads to optimal bone health. Ensure that your children get enough calcium, Vitamin D and proteins.

Bone-healthy nutrition, together with weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercise, are important ways to help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of falls and fractures.

Dairy is an important source of calcium and Vitamin D that is essential for bone health.

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