Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by low bone mass and loss of bone tissue that may lead to fragile and weak bones. A person with osteoporosis has an increased risk of fractured bones.
Many prople consider osteoporosis to be a condition that elderly women develop. However, the damage from osteoporosis begines much earlier in life. Bone density reaches its peak at the age of 25. It is very important to build strong bones by that age so that bones remain strong later in life.
Adequate calcium intake is an essential part of building strong bones. Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption. Two essential minerals for normal bone formation are calcium and phosphorus. If calcium intake is not suficient or the body does not absorb enough calcium from the diet, bone production and bone tissue will suffer. Thus, the bones will become weaker, resulting in brittle and fragile bones that can fracure easily.
Lack of certain hormones, particularly estrogen in women is a leading cause of osteoporosis. Women, especially those over 60 years of age are frequently diagnosed with the disease. Menopause is acompanied by lower estrogen levels and increases a woman's risk fo osteoporosis. Other factors that may contribute to bone loss in this age group include inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, lack of weight bearing exercise and other age related changes in endocrine functions (in addition to lack of estrogen).
It is recommended that adults get atleast 30 minutes of exercise each day to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.