Osteoporosis is the silent thief that robs your skeleton of up to 25 per cent of its bone mass by the time you reach 50. Find out how to prevent it. Osteoporosis is the silent thief that robs your skeleton of up to 25 per cent of its bone mass by the time you reach 50. It is now a serious epidemic in Britain. Bones become porous, or ‘osteoporotic’, due to the progressive loss of minerals, mass and density which can result in fractures. Four-fifths of fractures occur after the age of 50 and the risk becomes quite significant from 70 onwards. One in two women and one in five men will suffer a fracture after the age of fifty. It is estimated that the cost by 2020 of treating all fractures resulting from osteoporosis in postmenopausal women will be £2 billion.
Yet skeletal material dating from between 1729 and 1852, unearthed during the restoration of Christ Church, Spitalfields, in London, showed significantly less bone loss in women then than now, despite our supposedly better diet. Investigators found no sign of menopausal change in the unearthed bones. This suggests that some aspect of modern living doesn’t suit our skeletons. Most people think of bones as something rather ‘dead’ – simply the scaffolding on which to hang the rest of the body. But there’s a more plausible theory emerging that suggests bones are a vital part of the metabolic system that controls our intake of energy, the amount of fat we store, how much insulin we produce, and so on. Bones are made from a matrix of collagen, produced by vitamin C, into which bone-building minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium are deposited. Although they seem the strongest and most enduring part of us, our bones are in a constant flux, endlessly being destroyed and re-created. Cells called osteoclasts are the bone destroyers, whereas the osteoblasts create new bone – but age slows down this sequence of destruction and renewal. Strategies for improving bone-mass density either focus on stimulating growth, helping to push minerals into the bone, or on preventing its breakdown. Weight-bearing exercise ¬– such as walking – combined with eating sufficient protein, for example, stimulates bone growth. Getting enough vitamin D helps calcium to be absorbed into the bone, while the hormone oestrogen and drugs called bisphosphonates inhibit bone breakdown. B vitamins assist your body&......
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