How Can Osteoporosis be Treated?
The goal of osteoporosis treatment is the prevention of bone fractures by stopping bone loss and by increasing bone density and strength. Progression of the disease can sometimes be slowed or stopped with treatment, which includes the following:
The best way to treat and prevent osteoporosis is to get adequate amounts of calcium from diet or tablets. The daily recommended calcium intake for a normal adult is 1000mg. This need is slightly higher during childhood, old-age, and during pregnancy and lactation.
Vitamin D helps our bodies to process calcium effectively and helps in building healthy bones. Vitamin D is activated in our bodies in the presence of natural sunlight.
Role of Sunlight to Prevent Osteoporosis
An interesting observation was made by a Greek historian called Herodotus (480-425 BC) when he visited the site of battle of Pelusium, which took place in 525 BC. It explains very well the role of sunlight in preventing osteoporosis.
‘At the place where this battle was fought I saw a very odd thing, which the natives had told me about. The bones still lay there, those of the Persian dead separate from those of the Egyptian, just as they were originally divided, and I noticed that the skulls of the Persians were so thin that the merest touch with a pebble will pierce them, but those of the Egyptians, on the other hand, are so tough that it is hardly possible to break them with a blow from a stone. I was told, very credibly, that the reason was that the Egyptians shave their heads from childhood, so that the bone of the skull is indurated by the action of the sun. This, then, explains the thickness of their skulls; and the thinness of the Persian’s skulls rests upon a similar principle: namely that they have always worn felt skull-caps, to guard their heads from the sun’.
Herodotus, ‘The Histories’
One should spend at least 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure to the bare skin without sunscreen. In the tropics exposure to the morning or late afternoon sun is adequate, whereas in temperate climate exposure between 11am and 3pm from May until September increases vitamin D levels and helps to keep bones healthy.
Weight bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, yoga, playing tennis etc. help slow bone loss and improve muscle strength.
Osteoporosis can be treated with bisphosphonates. These drugs slow down bone loss and help increase bone mineral density.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Estrogen replacement therapy is recommended in post-menopausal women with reduced bone density.