Osteoporosis in women: Is your calcium intake right?

Dr Sachin Bhonsle, a Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, and Rasika Parab, Head of the department, Nutrition therapy, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, share the importance of calcium for bones and its role in day-to-day life

Image Source: Google
Image Source: Google

Osteoporosis is a bone disease where there is a drastic reduction in bone density, rendering bones easily breakable. The low bone mass and tissue deterioration affect the bone structure, which reduces the strength of the bones lead to repeated fractures.

Men and women over 50 years may experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Women have smaller, lighter bones than men which makes them prone to osteoporosis.

It is a well-known fact that calcium plays an integral role in the overall health of a person, especially for bones, and is said to be the building block for the bones. Bones that commonly break due to osteoporosis include the vertebrae in the spine, bones of the forearm, and the hip. For most women, osteoporosis is inevitable, and getting enough calcium in the diet is the first place to start.

Preventing osteoporosis involves two aspects, making your bones stronger and restricting bone loss during adulthood. By following these essential steps, you can prevent osteoporosis from developing:

Adequate consumption of calcium to aid in bone development: 1000mg daily for individuals aged 19 to 50 years, 1200mg daily for individuals over 50 years, and 1500mg for pregnant and lactating mothers

Regulating exercises in strength training and muscle gain

Recommended dietary allowance for calcium is as follows:

Tips to increase your calcium intake:

Milk is the more easily available and easily absorbable form of elemental calcium. Milk and milk products like curd, paneer, buttermilk, cheese, must be included in adequate amounts to fulfil daily Calcium needs

Sesame seeds (Til) are one of the sources of calcium. Til chikki and laddoo can be included in the diet to ensure adequate intake of calcium and can be added in mouth freshener.

Ragi is also a well-known source of calcium, but it also has fibre which makes its calcium unavailable for absorption. Hence, one should not be dependent only on ragi for adequate calcium intake

Calcium is extremely sensitive for its absorption in our body.

Calcium-rich food should never be eaten along with foods that are rich in iron or fibre or compounds like phytates and oxalates. Tannin in tea and caffeine in coffee also destroy calcium.

We must ensure the intake of vitamin C to ensure the best availability of calcium to our body. Citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime, lemons, and fruits like amla and guava are good sources of vitamin C.

Exposure to sunlight is equally essential to get an adequate amount of vitamin D.

Calcium also requires fat for its absorption in our body, and hence adequate amounts of fats to be included in your diet. Adding a spoonful of ghee in lunch and dinner can prove beneficial.

Include two glasses (200-225ml approx.) of cow’s milk every day fulfils adequate Calcium intake among children between 1-9 years of age, whereas consuming two big glasses of milk (300ml),  two cups of curd or buttermilk (100gm approx.) provides more than half the amount of required Calcium in diet for pregnant women.

Calcium supplements are recommended if the diet is a deficit in calcium. For instance, in case lactose intolerance, where patients cannot digest milk and dairy products, and hence calcium requirements can’t be met through diet. Calcium supplements are prescribed to patients those are prone to osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and especially, post-menopausal women, to fulfil the deficit of calcium in combination with a calcium-rich diet.