It is easy, or seemingly involuntary, to take things for granted when living in today’s fast-paced world. Health is almost secondary, as work is often given high priority. But to keep the body going, one needs food and nutrients for sustenance—the same goes for the need for strong bones to ensure continuous mobility and support.[pq]Sadly, food and bone health, although considered vital life components, are still largely ignored, be it due to poor lifestyle or lack of awareness.[/pq]
To help address this growing health problem, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (PCH)partnered with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) to spearhead the local celebration of World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) on October 20.
Aptly themed “Serve up Bone Strength,” WOD 2015 focuses on the importance of adopting a bone-healthy diet throughout a person’s lifetime to optimize bone strength. The campaign highlights the point that poor nutrition is one of the critical risk factors for developing bone-related diseases.
“It conveys the message that the first step in osteoporosis prevention begins in youth, when nutrition can help maximize our bone-building potential, and continues throughout life as we strive to maintain strong bones at older age,” explained IOF, the global organizer of WOD.
A key date in the bone, muscle, and joint community agenda, WOD is an occasion when people around the globe unite to put the spotlight on the immense burden caused by osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal diseases, and the actions that can be taken to prevent and treat them. It aims to put bone, muscle, and joint health on the global health agenda.
In the Philippines, PCH has remained a solid supporter of this global movement and has advocated various activities in the past to raise awareness on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.
The Silent Disease
According to IOF, osteoporosis affects over 200 million people worldwide. Approximately one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone (also known as osteoporotic fracture) due to this silent disease.
Fractures, specifically hip fractures, can cause loss of function and independence with 40% of patients unable to walk independently; 60% requiring assistance a year later; 33% being totally dependent on or in a nursing home. Moreover, hip fractures cause the greatest morbidity with reported mortality rates up to 20-24%in the first year after a person suffers a hip fracture.
“We at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare support the IOF in its advocacy to inform the people about osteoporosis and the fact that it can be prevented,” says Dr. Egbert Dorado, senior medical manager at PCH. “We echo IOF’s key message: Adequate intake of the right nutrients contributes to bone health at all ages, and is a first step in osteoporosis prevention. For those who already have osteoporosis, a bone-healthy nutrition should be part of their treatment and rehabilitation program.”
Three of the major nutrients that help optimize bone health are: calcium, vitamin D, and protein, with recommended daily allowances varying throughout life.
“Regulating calcium levels in the body promotes better bone mass density (BMD), alongside improving muscle performance and balance. Taking a calcium supplement with adequate levels of Vitamin D3 also helps maximize calcium absorption,” adds Dr. Egbert.
While proper nutrition works, it is also important to have a holistic approach to osteoporosis prevention and management.
“It is indeed crucial to build strong bones early in life by following a healthy diet as it is the key ingredient in helping a person achieve peak bone mass, and maintaining it throughout life. But it is equally important to avoid other modifiable risk factors including sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and alcohol use,” explains Dr. Egbert.
Osteoporosis is an incurable disease, but controlling its risk factors and complying with treatment regimens where prescribed can ensure a mobile, independent, and fracture-free life.