November is the month of osteoporosis, a disease that is characterized by a weakening of bones that leads to fractures, especially in the hip, vertebral column and the wrist. In most cases, bones become fragile due to a lack of calcium, phosphorous and other minerals.
2 million Canadians, or more specifically, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. However, this disease can attack at any age.
The two basic preventive measures for preserving bone mass are as follows:
Osteoporosis Canada recommends an intake of 1200 mg of calcium and 800 to 2000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D each day, for adults over the age of 50. It is always best to stick to natural sources and to resort to pharmaceutical supplements only to make up the difference, whenever required.
It is very possible to ensure the necessary intake of calcium through a healthy diet (for example, milk products, salmon with bones, sardines, dark green vegetables, soy based products). As for vitamin D, only certain types of fish (sardine, mackerel, herring, salmon, etc.) and fortified foods contain substantial quantities of it.
Vitamin D is naturally synthesized in the skin when exposed to the sun, but in our part of the world during winter, this is not enough.
To find out how to get your maximum calcium and vitamin D requirements through a healthy diet, go to osteoporosis.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on October 30, 2010.