While fewer men than women are affected by osteoperosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle – resulting in hip fractures in the elderly – one in three to four cases are men, says Dr Toh Choon Lai, an orthopaedic surgeon in private practice at Mt Elizabeth Medical Centre. Osteoporosis is typically uncovered after a fracture. By this point, the condition is already severe. To reduce the risk of developing the brittle bone disease, doctors advise starting prevention while you’re young.
When To Start Worrying
A man’s bone mass peaks when he’s in his 20s. After this point, the amount of bone in the skeleton begins to decline, as the removal of old bone tissues exceeds the formation of new ones. Osteoporosis develops without showing any signs. “Bone density screening may pick up the disease before it becomes severe,” says Dr Toh.
According to the National Osteoporosis Society in the UK, smoking and drinking both increase your risk of the disease. Toxins in cigarette smoke inhibits the production of bone tissue. “Other risk factors include low body weight, the lack of exercise, a low calcium intake, a family history of the disease and a previous fracture from mild trauma. People with these risk factors should ask their doctors for an evaluation,” Dr Toh says.
Preventive Steps – More Calcium
Bone scans conducted on more than 1.8 million people in Asia revealed that nearly 40 per cent of those tested are at risk of developing osteoporosis. “Taking calcium and vitamin D will help to build up the strength of the bones for later years,” Dr Toh says. “It’s like saving money for retirement; the earlier you start, the better.”
Brown University in the US recommends increasing calcium intake to 1,500 mg and vitamin D to 800 IU per day to help in preventing further bone loss. If you can’t stomach dairy, try cabbage or bak choy. Both contain 190mg of calcium per cup, and the body absorbs it more readily than from dairy sources.
Preventive Steps – Lift Weights Regularly
A workout doesn’t only benefit muscles but bones, too. Dr Toh recommends a regular regimen of weight-bearing exercises in which bones and muscles work against gravity. These include walking, jogging and strength training. By stressing your bones, strength training actually increases bone density, according to the Mayo Clinic.