Calcium for Osteopenia & Osteoporosis

We all know that calcium is needed to grow healthy bones and teeth, however very few know that calcium is needed for more than just bone growth. Even fewer people are aware of what the consequences are of insufficient calcium levels within our bodies. Calcium is not only needed to grow and maintain strong bones and teeth but it also ensures that the heart functions properly and helps regulate blood clotting. In addition, calcium is needed to keep the nerves and muscles working at their ideal levels. Insufficient calcium levels in the body can lead to bone disease, severe muscle cramps and spasms, depression, brittle hair and nails, intense bone pain and a loss of bone mass. If the body is deprived of calcium for a long time, certain bone diseases can develop, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Osteopenia occurs when the bone mineral density is lower than it should be but not low enough for osteoporosis to occur. Many people who develop osteopenia will suffer from osteoporosis later in life if not treated properly. There are various reasons why a person may develop osteopenia but insufficient calcium is the biggest factor. If there aren’t sufficient levels of calcium in the blood to keep the heart, nerves and muscles functioning properly, the body will take from the bones and that is where bone minerals and mass will be lost. If the calcium is not replaced to the bones, over a period of time a far more serious bone disease may develop, osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis meaning ‘porous bones’, occurs when the bone mineral density has been significantly reduced over a long period of time and as a result of low bone mass, the bone microarchitecture has deteriorated. Osteoporosis usually occurs in post menopausal woman however men are also known to get it, though not as often as woman. Once a person is diagnosed with osteoporosis, they need to be careful as any slips or falls could result in osteoporosis fractures as osteoporosis is a bone disease that leaves the bones weak, brittle and fragile. The most common places in the body where osteoporosis factures may occur are in the hip, wrist, and spine.

Osteopenia and osteoporosis may be avoided if simple guidelines are followed. As humans our bone density reaches its peak at about 25 – 27 years of age so it is imperative to keep consuming sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D, which enables calcium to be absorbed. It is advisable for people suffering from osteopenia and osteoporosis to start doing gentle weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, blowing, dancing or even stair climbing. These weight bearing exercises will help achieve a higher bone mass as well as delay bone generation however always consult with a physician first as he/she will be able to advise you on which exercises are less likely to leave you with osteoporosis fractures, which tend to be common.

Lastly, a healthy lifestyle will either prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis or make the symptoms more bearable for those who already have it. Most importantly, calcium and vitamin D needs to be increased in your diet and in some cases, calcium supplements are advised as bones need to be repaired and maintained. A bone disease can also be prevented by limiting alcohol and cutting out tobacco.