1. Get adequate calcium and vitamin D
“We all know calcium is good for bones, but it goes hand in hand with vitamin D,” explains Teréza Hough of the National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa (NOFSA). Vitamin D assists calcium absorption and ensures the renewal and mineralisation of bone tissue, she adds. And because Vitamin D is important for the correct functioning of the muscles and nervous system, it also increases reaction time when a fall is imminent. 1000mg calcium and 800-1200UI vitamin D are recommended daily.
Speak to your Clicks pharmacist about supplementation if you suspect that you are not getting enough vitamin D from your diet or sunlight (10 to 20 minutes a day should provide adequate vitamin D).
2. Embrace exercise
Regular exercise releases hormones that promote bone formation and it stimulates blood flow within the bone. It promotes muscle strength and improves balance, co-ordination and confidence, all of which help to prevent falls. Hough recommends aerobics, jogging, skipping and tennis, as well as lower-impact weight-bearing activities like brisk walking (wear comfortable shoes with a good arch and heel support) for 45 minutes three times a week (outside or on a treadmill). Yoga, t’ai chi and Pilates help with muscle strength and balance.
Hough warns that anyone who is at increased risk of fractures or who has had a fracture should speak to their healthcare provider before embarking on an exercise programme.
3. Be aware of the effect of certain medication
Certain chronic medication may lead to bone-density loss, so be aware of the side effects if you’re on a long-term, high-dosage treatment, especially corticosteroids. Drugs that may increase the risk of falling include sedatives, tranquilisers, heart medication, and any medication that affects balance.
4. Make healthy choices
Bone mass in smokers is generally 15 to 25 percent lower than non-smokers, and studies have shown that the intake of more than two alcoholic beverages per day can lead to osteoporosis. Alcohol has a direct toxic effect on bone, and chronic alcoholism is associated with significant bone-loss in nearly 50 percent of cases. Make smart choices and avoid bad habits that will destroy your health over time.
Ensure your living space doesn’t present with hazards that could contribute to falls, such as loose mats, bad lighting, uneven flooring and cluttered rooms. Aids like canes, handrails and grab handles (in bathrooms) should be in good working order. For high-risk patients, hip protectors are recommended and are readily available from orthopaedic equipment suppliers.
Shop online at Clicks.co.za for your supplements
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