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Why Osteoporosis Hits Women Harder: Shocking Stats Revealed

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Bone health is an aspect of our well-being that can easily be neglected since it often doesn’t show obvious symptoms. Osteoporosis, a disease that deteriorates bones and cannot be cured, requires ongoing management to enhance bone density. In South Korea, 60% of women over 50 have suffered at least one fracture due to osteoporosis, and half of the women over 70 are affected by the disease. Moreover, osteoporosis increasingly affects younger people, underscoring the need for individuals of all ages to focus on maintaining healthy bones. Let’s delve deeper into understanding osteoporosis, which leads to weakened bones.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means an increase in the number of holes in the bones. The main component of the bone, calcium, rapidly depletes, causing the bone density to decrease and the bone to appear as though it has holes. About 90% of a person’s bone mass is formed during adolescence and gradually decreases from age 35. Around the age of 50, bone density and bone mass decrease rapidly. Especially after menopause, the rate of bone density loss accelerates, requiring more careful management.

Causes of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis occurs when calcium intake is low, or calcium absorption is poor due to gastrectomy or inflammatory diseases. It also becomes risky when Vitamin D is deficient, which increases calcium absorption in the intestines. Menopause is closely related to osteoporosis because the female hormone estrogen maintains bone density. When estrogen secretion stops with menopause, bone density decreases, having a decisive impact. The use of certain medications, lack of exercise, family history, excessive drinking, and depression are also causes of osteoporosis.

This Disease with 16 Times More Female Patients than Male

A person’s bones maintain their density by balancing old bone destruction and new bone formation. About 90% of adult bone mass is formed during adolescence, and bone mass gradually decreases from age 35, rapidly decreasing after age 50. According to the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service, the number of osteoporosis patients in Korea is steadily increasing, with over 3,000 patients visiting hospitals daily due to osteoporosis. The disease appears more quickly and frequently in women. In fact, in 2021, there were 1,061,874 female patients diagnosed with osteoporosis, compared to 64,987 male patients, making the disease over 16 times more prevalent in women.

Preventing Osteoporosis with Strength Training

Engaging in weight-bearing exercises and strength training is crucial for the elderly to prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises, which help build and maintain bone density, include walking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, and tennis. It’s essential to account for individual differences in joint health and cardiovascular fitness when deciding how much exercise to start and how to increase the intensity gradually. Premenopausal women can benefit from weight-bearing exercises by increasing their bone density, while postmenopausal women can use these exercises to prevent a decrease in bone density.

3 Foods Good for Osteoporosis

1. Anchovies

Anchovies are beneficial for osteoporosis. They are rich in omega-3 and taurine, which can lower cholesterol levels in the blood and aid in brain cell activation. Nucleic acid stimulates metabolism and promotes cell division. However, anchovies have a high sodium content compared to other calcium-rich foods, so those with high blood pressure or who need to manage their weight should be cautious.

2. Bluefish

Bluefish are also suitable for preventing osteoporosis. This category includes popular side dishes such as mackerel, saury, tuna, and salmon. Specifically, while salmon doesn’t have a high calcium content, it is rich in vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption, and magnesium, which promotes calcium function. Overconsumption of calcium can lead to calcium accumulation and calcification in the vessels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Magnesium is effective in preventing vascular calcification caused by calcium.

3. Dairy Products

Milk is rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins, and the ratio of phosphorus to calcium is 1:1. The absorption rate of calcium is very high, at 60-70%. In particular, lactose in milk enhances calcium absorption and boosts immunity. Other dairy products like yogurt and cheese are also good for promoting bone health. However, many commercially available cheeses and yogurts contain added sugars, flavor enhancers, and flavors, so it is important to check the ingredient list carefully when selecting these products.

Why We Need Vitamin D

Maintaining an adequate vitamin D level in the blood is just as essential for building strong bones as getting enough calcium. Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption in the body and prevents its excretion. Foods like shiitake mushrooms, tofu, mackerel, and eggs are rich in vitamin D and widely available as dietary supplements. Unlike other nutrients, vitamin D can be synthesized in the body through exposure to sunlight. Therefore, walking or exercising outdoors on a sunny day promotes physical health and stimulates vitamin D production, offering dual benefits.

How Much Calcium Should We Have Daily?

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency recommends a daily intake of 1,000 mg of calcium for adults under 50 and 1,200 mg for those over 50 to prevent osteoporosis. Anchovies are rich in calcium, with 509 mg per 100g based on raw weight. If you dry them in the sun before eating, the calcium and vitamin D become more concentrated, enhancing absorption in the body.

What Should We Avoid for Osteoporosis?

While vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, iron binds with calcium and excretes it from the body. Therefore, iron-rich foods like orange juice, spinach, and seaweed should not be consumed with calcium-rich foods. Caffeine also interferes with calcium absorption, so it’s wise not to drink coffee or green tea immediately after meals or after consuming milk. Carbonated drinks, which have a tangy taste, contain a lot of sugar and cause calcium stored in the bones to leak out, leading to osteoporosis. So, it’s better to refrain from consuming them and replace them with carbonated water or herbal tea.

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