Bond with milk, strengthen those bones

There is yet another reason not to avoid that glass of milk in the morning. Osteoporosis, known as the silent killer is fast on the rise.

What is osteoporosis? It is a disease in which the density and quality of bones are reduced, leading to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fracture, particularly of the spine, wrist and hip.  The condition occurs basically due to porous bones, which in turn happens due to the lack of intake of calcium and Vitamin D by an individual.

Most common among post-menopausal women, osteoporosis is on the rise in India, also impacting men. In fact, one out of eight males and one out of three women in India suffer from osteoporosis, making India one of the largest affected countries in the world.

Risk factors

Diet: Getting too little calcium over a period of time can increase your risk. Not getting enough Vitamin D from your diet, supplements, or sunlight can also increase your risk.

Physical activity: Leading a sedentary lifestyle and not exercising and being inactive or staying in bed for long periods can increase your risk.

Smoking: Smokers may absorb less calcium from their diets.

Medications: Some commonly-used medicines can cause loss of bone mass. These include steroids used to control arthritis and asthma. These include some drugs used to treat seizures; cancer drugs and too much thyroid hormone.

Low BMI:  Women with a lower body mass index (small boned) are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
Drink, drink, drink some more milk! As it is hard to replace the calcium that is lost, prevention and replacement of calcium is essential. Building strong and healthy bones requires an adequate dietary intake of calcium, beginning at a young age and adolescence for both sexes. A good source of calcium includes consumption of dairy products. To get adequate calcium, one should consume milk and milk products — curd and paneer — in their daily diet and leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seafood. Milk plays an important role in protecting bone health and has immense qualities to make your bones grow stronger.

It’s extremely important to include hygienic and packaged milk in your daily diet. Milk in its loose form is a natural breeding ground for disease carrying micro-organisms and is prone to microbial activity if left unprocessed. Hence, having milk processed with Ultra High Temperature (UHT) technology is the safest and most reliable option.

The milk packed in these cartons retains nutrition, taste and quality, as the packaging material protects the contents inside from bacteria, odours and other harmful environmental conditions.

Get your daily dose

Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Milk that is fortified with Vitamin D is one of the best sources of this. Sunlight is also an excellent source of Vitamin D. In fact, being in the sun for just 15 minutes a day helps the body produce and activate Vitamin D. Supplements can be helpful too.

Physical activity is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of falling low on calcium. Bone strength increases with regular exercise. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. To help prevent osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercises such as walking, low-impact aerobics, or tennis work best to strengthen bones. Research shows that more than half of all Indians do not get enough physical activity to strengthen their bones. Physical activity makes you stronger, improves balance and coordination, and improves overall health.

Bone mineral density test

All women over 65 years of age and anyone who has a bone fracture after 50 years should get a bone density test done. Adults with significant risk factors should also get a bone density test to be cognisant of their bone health. Bone density tests are safe, painless, quick (5-10 minutes) and indicate the health of bones. Get that test done to understand your risk levels and take precautions accordingly.

Beginning a lifelong commitment to healthy nutrition and exercise while you are still young reduces your risk of developing this condition later in life. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable for most people and getting enough calcium in your diet is the first step towards doing that.  Remember, you are never too young to think about preventing osteoporosis.

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