Calcium Calculator Now Online to Help Senior
Citizens Fight Osteoporosis, Bone Breaks
People who are physically active and get enough
calcium can strengthen their bones - even in old age
12, 2008 - A stumble, a fall - a broken bone: many older people are
afraid of this happening, according to the German Institute for Quality
and Efficiency in Health Care, which today made available online a
calcium calculator. Research shows that regular adequate intake of
calcium and exercise can strengthen the bones and prevent falls.
But many people do not know whether they are
getting enough calcium in their diets, which is why The Institute has
developed the calculator to help estimate if users are getting enough
Getting older does not necessarily mean that you
will get osteoporosis. (Read more about osteoporosis below news story.)
The risk of osteoporosis does, however, rise as we
get older, and people over 70 often have brittle bones. A fall does not
only mean bruises then, but it is easier for a bone to break. There are
several ways to protect and strengthen bones, even when you are already
One important way is to get enough calcium
regularly. To stop our bones losing too much strength we need an
increasing amount of calcium as we get older. The best way to get it is
with a calcium-rich diet.
"Older people in particular are often not getting
enough calcium," according to the Institute's Director, Professor Peter
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a
minimum daily intake of calcium of 1,300 mg for women after the
menopause and men over the age of 65.
The Institute developed an online calculator for
its website with the help of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. The
calculator helps you find out quickly and easily roughly how much
calcium you are getting through your diet every day and whether that is
If you cannot get enough calcium in your diet, then
calcium supplements could help. Trials have shown that taking daily
calcium supplements can help protect people who are at high risk of bone
fracture. According to Professor Sawicki, "Even when you are already
over 70, you can reduce your risk of bone fracture if you get enough
Exercise strengthens the bones and might help
reduce the risk of falling
Some people believe that they can best protect
themselves by not moving around too much and trying to avoid situations
where they might have a chance of falling. But in reality being too
immobile is one of the major risk factors for osteoporosis. If you spend
a large part of the day sitting or lying down, your bones are more
likely to become weak and brittle.
Physical activity that involves
carrying your weight can actually strengthen your bones. One of the
easier ways to get exercise with a low risk of injury is brisk walking.
According to the Institute, even in older age, walking is a simple way
of getting enough exercise that people feel comfortable with - and it
benefits more than the bones, as well.
Professor Sawicki said: "Injury is of course always
possible when you exercise. But people who are more active strengthen
their muscles and bones - and that can help them stay physically stable
and secure. People may gain more confidence in their bodies and that
might mean a lower risk of stumbling and falling."
The Institute's website
www.informedhealthonline.org informs the general public about the
latest developments in medical research on important health questions.
Anyone who would like to keep up-to-date with the latest information
releases on the website can subscribe to its
bones that break too easily are a sign of osteoporosis. Many people are
afraid of it, and it is in fact quite a common problem that develops
when we live into our 70s, 80s and beyond. But there are several things
we can do that can protect and strengthen our bones as we get older.
Preventive strategies are particularly important
for women because they are more likely to develop osteoporosis. In
Germany, by the time women are 80 years old, around 1 in 5 will have
weak, brittle bones. The risk of fractures increases considerably for
both women and men above the age of 75. But bone health is important for
all adults. Read on to find out what you can do today to start
protecting your bones so that you can have a healthier old age.
You have more calcium in your body than
any other mineral and it has many important jobs.
The body stores more than 99 percent of
its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them
strong. The rest is throughout the body in blood, muscle and the
fluid between cells.
Your body needs calcium to help muscles
and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and
enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system.
It is important to get plenty of calcium
in the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include diary
products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and leafy, green
The exact amount of calcium you need
depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and
teenagers need more calcium than young adults.
What is osteoporosis and why do bones break more
easily when we get older?
Bones have to withstand a great deal of pressure in
everyday life. They take on various strains whenever we stand and move
around. The outer layer of our bones is hard and solid. That is called
compact or cortical bone. It has a thin but tough coating called the
Inside bones there is a supporting structure with
interconnecting bony webs and rods called trabeculae. This structure is
called trabecular or spongy bone because it looks a bit like sponge or
honeycomb. In the spaces between the trabeculae is the bone marrow. The
bone marrow produces our blood cells.
The word "osteoporosis" comes from the Greek for
bone ("osteo") and porous ("porosis"). Osteoporosis happens when a large
amount of the spongy bone tissue breaks down, leaving bigger spaces.
This makes the bone more porous.
The fine structure of the bones also changes,
becoming more brittle and easier to break. Bones can become so weak that
they break when the person stumbles or lifts a heavy shopping bag.
Bones in the spine can break without the person
even realizing it has happened. That is called a vertebral fracture and
it usually does not cause any noticeable problems. It is one of the most
common fractures caused by osteoporosis, along with fractures in the
hip, upper arm and wrist.
Osteoporosis is one reason why many older people
stoop over and develop what is often called a "dowager's hump" at the
top of the spine.