November is Osteoporosis Month
Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, leading to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture. Osteoporosis develops without symptoms, and is often diagnosed only after a fracture has occurred.
According to Osteoporosis Canada, “at least one in three women and one in five men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime”. In fact, osteoporotic fractures are “more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined”.
Consuming a healthy diet is a very important step in preventing osteoporosis. However, as we age, we tend to eat less, or not as well, due to various factors including:
- not wanting to cook for just one or two
- increased difficulty getting out to shop for groceries
- increased difficulty preparing meals
- reduced appetite
- taste changes
To maintain healthy and strong bones, it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet, including all four food groups. Key nutrients for bone health include the following:
Protein. Protein is essential to maintain bone health, as well as muscle strength which is important for balance and fall prevention. Yet many seniors don’t eat enough protein.
Seniors should consume a small to moderate amount of protein (about 2-4 oz.) at all meals. Sources of protein include meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans and legumes, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt.
Calcium: Calcium is essential to keep bones strong and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified soy beverages.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health, in part, because it aids in calcium absorption.
We produce Vitamin D through our skin from sun exposure; however, many seniors don’t get adequate amounts of sunlight to produce enough Vitamin D. We can get some vitamin D through diet, but the sources are limited (mainly dairy and fish). Therefore, it’s recommended that seniors take Vitamin D supplementation.