300,000 people in the UK are admitted to hospital every single year because of fragile bones.
Known as the ‘silent killer’, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.
So how can you ensure you keep your bones healthy and in tip top shape? We asked Dr Dawn Harper for her advice on how to reduce the risk of osteoporosis:
1. Love your bones
It's never too early to start thinking about your bone health, says Dr Harper.
“The more you can invest in healthy bones before your thirties, the stronger they will be for life. It's also never too late to start looking after your bones, so whatever your age, keep reading and do all you can to protect your bones.”
2. Go for dairy
“Bones need calcium. Dairy products are a good source of dietary calcium, but so are green leafy vegetables,” advises Dr Harper.
“If you are concerned about your calcium intake, talk to a pharmacist, GP or dietician about ways to increase intake which may include taking calcium supplements.”
3. Catch some rays
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and will also keep muscles strong and help prevent falls in older people.
If you’re not getting enough sunlight in the winter months, eat foods rich in vitamin D, which include dairy products, oily fish, fruit, vegetables and cereals - or consider taking a supplement
4. Watch your weight
If your body mass index (BMI) is too high (above 24.9) or too low (below 18.5) it can put you at increased risk of osteoporosis, explains Dr Harper.
5. Stress your bones
Bones need to be used to stay strong , so do something every day to stress your bones – walking, running or dancing are excellent ways to keep your bones healthy.
6. Count those steps
Want to count your steps? Invest in a pedometer.
Dr Harper explains: “We should all be doing 10,000 paces a day and if you have a sedentary job you may be horrified by how short
you fall. Making sure you manage those 10,000 steps will mean you walk 7.5 kms a day and this will go a long way to protecting your bones for the future.”
7. Ditch the cigs
Smoking increases your risk of thin bones, so speak to your pharmacist or GP about smoking cessation services and make it a priority now
8. Curb your drinking
“Stick to recommended alcohol limits, which are less than you may think – just 14 units a week. Drinking more will increase the risk of osteoporosis.”
9. Watch your fizz
Ditch the can and you’ll help your bones.
“Fizzy drinks can leach minerals from your bones, making you more prone to osteoporosis.”
10. Assess your risk
If you think you are at risk, speak to your GP about whether you would be eligible for a DXA scan, or you could consider the Osentia at home testing kit.