Oh May, oh May, oh May…

The month of May is usually thought of for flowers or Mother’s Day, but it is also National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Osteoporosis is a condition of “porous bones” that especially affects older women and is characterized by decrease in bone mass with decreased density and enlargement of bone spaces producing porosity and brittleness (1) causing easily shattered bones.

Progression of Osteoporosis

Progression of Osteoporosis

Bones are a living tissue so they are in constant flux of absorbing, storing, and excreting nutrients. Therefore, bones are dependent on the dietary availability of calcium for their overall maintenance. Low intake of dietary calcium will cause the body to take the available “store” of the mineral from the bones to be made available for physiological processes where calcium is necessary such as for blood clotting or the sodium-calcium pump, Diagram 1 (below), that are transmembrane ion transporters for maintenance of osmotic pressure.

Sodium-Calcium pump (transporter)

Diagram1. Sodium-Calcium pump (transporter)

WHA??!?!?… HUH??!?!?! ok, that was a mouthful.

Osmotic pressure

Diagram2. Osmotic pressure

In other words, to balance the pressure on either sides of a wall (membrane) there must be active transport of specific items. This is a pump which needs calcium to work, Diagram 2. Think of sea water on one side and fresh water on the other. In addition to the active transporter mechanism, the production of energy for lets say… the heart muscle contraction, calcium is needed to release the energy for the heart muscle to contract/pump.

There are no early warning signs of osteoporosis in young people. So PREVENTION is crucial. Some symptoms in older people are:

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected

Unfortunately, some risk factors cannot be prevented such as sex – females are more likely to have it, race – Asian and Caucasian, family history/genetics – an immediate family member with osteoporosis increases chances, age – older >50yrs old, and body frame/size – smaller frames increases the likelihood. For more information on risk factors like hormones and dietary factors, check out the mayo clinic.

note: Calcium absorption in the body is dependent on vitamin D. They have a friends-with-benefits type of relationship.

Daily recommended intake of calcium (IOM):

Women Calcium (mg)/day
< 50 yrs 1,000
> 50 yrs 1,200

Daily calcium intake calculator.

Men Calcium (mg)/day
< 70 yrs 1,000
> 70 yrs 1,200

The bottom line is: calcium is needed in lots of other physiological processes and bones are a readily, available source of the mineral. The only other way to maintain this source in bone and in the blood is to get it in the diet and milk is NOT the only best source. High calcium foods are shown below with suggested guidelines for bone health from NOF:

Good for your bones food via nof.org

Good for your bones food via nof.org

 

References:

1.Medlineplus dictionary osteoporosis.

Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/basics/definition/con-20019924

National Osteoporosis Foundation – http://www.nof.org

© Charlene C Ho and its a NUTTY, NUTTYgrrl world…blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Charlene C Ho and its a NUTTY, NUTTYgrrl world…blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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