What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the most common cause of fractures in the middle-aged and elderly population. It is a condition where the reduction in bone mass and bone density leads to microstructural damage within the bones, causing them to become fragile and increasing the risk of fractures.
Osteoporosis typically doesn’t exhibit any symptoms in its early stages until the bones become brittle and prone to fractures, making even minor falls or pressure result in fractures. Once fractures occur, some patients may experience acute pain, prolonged hospitalization, bed rest, incomplete recovery, the need for extended rehabilitation, and limitations in mobility, impacting the quality of life and potentially increasing mortality rates  .
💡 In Taiwan, the following individuals are currently recommended to undergo regular bone density checks:
- Women aged 65 and above or men aged 70 and above
- Women under 65 with risk factors for menopause
- Women approaching menopause with clinical risk factors for fractures, such as underweight, previous fractures, or the use of high-risk fracture medications
- Men aged 50 to 70 with risk factors for fractures
- Fragility fracture patients (fractures occurring at low impact)
- Those with conditions that may lead to low bone mass or bone loss
- Individuals taking medications related to low bone mass or bone loss
- Anyone deemed in need of medication for osteoporosis treatment
- Those undergoing treatment to monitor treatment effectiveness
- Individuals with evidence of bone density loss who may undergo treatment
8 Recommended Health Components Beneficial for Osteoporosis
Calcium is one of the most important components for bone health. Multiple studies confirm that individuals with lower dietary calcium intake are at an increased risk of fractures. Supplementing with adequate calcium and vitamin D3 can prevent osteoporosis and reduce the incidence of fractures. Recommended intake for adults aged 19-50 is 1000mg per day; for men aged 50-70, it’s 1000mg per day, and for women aged 50 and above and men aged 71 and above, it’s 1200mg per day. It’s important to note that the body cannot absorb more than 500mg of calcium at once, so it should be taken multiple times a day   .
Vitamin D, like calcium, is one of the most crucial components for preventing osteoporosis. Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, food, and supplements. The physiological functions of vitamin D3 include promoting calcium absorption, maintaining normal bone metabolism, muscle function, balance, etc. Studies confirm that inadequate intake of vitamin D3 increases bone loss and decreases bone density, leading to a higher risk of fractures, especially in the elderly. Children and adults need to supplement with an adequate amount of vitamin D to maintain bone health. Recommended intake is 400-800 IU per day for adults under 50 and 800-1000 IU per day for adults aged 50 and above    .
Magnesium is an essential mineral in the human body, and when supplemented simultaneously with calcium, it helps maintain strong bones. The ideal balance is calcium: magnesium = 2:1. Pay attention to processed foods, as they can degrade the magnesium content, leading to insufficient intake. Additionally, excessive magnesium intake can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea    .
Vitamin K facilitates the binding of calcium to bones, and several studies support its significant role in improving bone health. Its role involves stimulating osteoblasts, promoting carboxylation of osteocalcin, thereby regulating the absorption of bone minerals, completing bone formation; simultaneously, it also inhibits the activity of osteoclasts, thereby increasing bone density, achieving the preventive and therapeutic effects of osteoporosis     .
Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant in the human body, protecting cells from free radical damage. Research indicates that higher intake of vitamin C can result in higher bone density, and individuals with higher vitamin C intake have a lower risk of osteoporosis and related fractures compared to those with lower intake. This difference is more pronounced in individuals aged 70 and above   .
Soy contains isoflavones, which are plant estrogens. As estrogen has a protective effect on bones, and the decline of estrogen after menopause is associated with bone loss, soy can help protect bones and prevent bone loss in women. Research also confirms that soy and isoflavones can help women reduce the risk of osteoporosis    .
Red clover, like soy, contains isoflavones with estrogen-like compounds, which can help protect bones. It is suggested for use in treating osteoporosis. Studies have found that women taking supplements with isoflavones from red clover experience a significant slowdown in bone loss in the spine and hip. It has been proposed as an alternative to hormone therapy during menopause to prevent osteoporosis   .
Black cohosh root is an herb used in Native American medicine for many years. It contains plant-based estrogen and is helpful in preventing bone loss. Research indicates that black cohosh can promote bone formation in mice. After taking products containing black cohosh for 3 months, postmenopausal women can increase bone formation markers, improve bone formation, and reduce bone fractures   .
When a person is diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is advisable to make dietary changes and increase the intake of calcium along with vitamin D3. Dietary changes can help prevent further loss of bone mass.
For osteoporosis patients, the most crucial measures to prevent fractures include maintaining a normal diet, engaging in exercises to enhance muscle strength and bone density, and avoiding falls. Additionally, it is essential to make specific lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing the consumption of caffeinated beverages, all of which contribute to the prevention and management of osteoporosis.