Osteoporosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones lose their density and strength. This can lead to fractures, which cause pain and make everyday activities extremely difficult.

It’s estimated over 200 million women globally have osteoporosis. That’s more than the combined populations of the Germany, the United Kingdom and France. Because bone loss is gradual and painless, there are usually no symptoms to indicate a person is developing osteoporosis.

How to prevent Osteoporosis?

Genetic factors play an important role in determining whether an individual is at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. But, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity are as important and also influence bone development in youth and the rate of bone loss later in life. The nutritional and lifestyle advice for building strong bones in youth is just as applicable to adults to.

Adults should:

  • Ensure a nutritious diet and adequate calcium intake.
  • Avoid severe weight-loss diets and eating disorders that can cause under-nutrition.
  • Maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • Perform regular weight-bearing exercises.
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking.
  • Avoid heavy drinking.
How to prevent Osteoporosis?

Nutritional Advice for Living with Osteoporosis

Bone, muscle and joint health are closely related to nutrition. A healthy diet can help you prevent and manage osteoporosis by supporting the production and maintenance of bone. Therefore, if you're not getting the right nutrients you're putting yourself at higher risk of many bone, muscle and joint diseases.

Two of the most important nutrients in the formation of bones are calcium and vitamin D: 

  • Calcium is a major building-block of bone tissue (the skeleton houses 99% of the body’s calcium stores).
  • Vitamin D is key at it assists your body to absorb calcium – the two go hand in hand.

There are a number of vitamins & minerals besides calcium and vitamin D that help prevent osteoporosis and contribute towards better bone, muscle and joint health.

Some of these include eating enough protein, fruits and vegetables, foods or drinks high in calcium (such as Kefir) and other vitamins and minerals.

7 tips for taking Osteoporosis medication

  • Think about ways to take your medication (e.g. first thing in the morning) to minimise the impact on your everyday life.

  • Try to ensure you take your treatment at the same time each day.

  • Use a diary or set a calendar notification to take your medication and collect your prescriptions on time.

  • Make a note of the specific actions you need to remember when taking your treatment such as taking on a full stomach.

  • Plan in advance for possible changes to your routine that make it more difficult to take your medication, such as holidays or special events.

  • Ask family and friends to support you during treatment.

  • Speak to your pharmacist about any difficulties or concerns you may be having. They can give advice on managing medications and may be able to suggest other treatment options.

Tips for staying on treatment

How can we help you?

  • Diagnosing osteoporosis and discussing your options.

  • Nutrition, exercise and treatment advice if you have already been diagnosed.

  • The best methods of treatment for your osteoporosis and how to stay on treatment.