Osteoporosis and Nutrition

Dimitris Papadopoulos MD Fellow Of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP)

Updated 18 June, 2011

Osteoporosis is the disease of bones in which bone density is reduced, resulting in high risk for fractures. Osteoporosis is an indolent and severe problem affecting not only women but also men. According to recent data of the Hellenic Osteoporosis Foundation (ELIOS), one out of three women in Greece will manifest osteoporosis within the next 50 years and the number of fractures in sensitive skeletal areas is expected to overdouble.

The role of Calcium and vitamin D in reducing the risk for osteoporosis
Calcium and vitamin D can help to prevent osteoporosis, for they affect bone density.  The recommended calcium uptake for adults ranges from 800 – 1200 mg daily according to gender, age (puberty, menopause) and period of life (gestation, lactation).
The main sources of calcium are dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese). There is calcium also in green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli, cabbage), soya and soya cheese, fish (e.g. salmon, sardine, tuna), dried nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds), sesame and sesame pulp (tachini).

Type of food Ca content
1 cup of milk 300 mg
1 cup of boiled spinach 100mg
1 cup of boiled broccoli 45 mg
½ cup of canned salmon with bones 1160 mg

Vitamin D significantly contributes to maintaining good bone health and avoiding osteoporosis, as it increases calcium absorption from the intestine. It is produced mainly in our skin with exposure to the sun but also, to some extent, we take it by consuming certain types of food, such as eggs, liver, fish and some enriched dairy products.
The proper and balanced nutrition, rich in calcium, is the most important factor for reducing risk for osteoporosis.  Calcium plays a determining role in creating and maintaining the maximum bone density from childhood to menopause age. It also slows down loss of bone density after menopause. A recent clinical trial* has shown that daily consumption of dairy products, rich in calcium and vitamin D, reduces the risk for osteoporosis.

This research was carried out by scientific groups of the Nutrition – Dietology Department of the Harokopio University and the Bone Disease Research Laboratory of the Medical Faculty of the Athens University, in a randomly selected  group of postmenopause – non osteoporotic Greek women consuming dairy products NOUNOU Calciplus. According to the results, the women who consumed 3 portions NOUNOU Calciplus daily had significant increase of total bone mass and bone mass in the spinal and pelvic region reducing risk for osteoporosis, compared to those women  who continued their normal nutrition and those taking calcium agents.

Risk factors for osteoporosis

Modifiable risk factors

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Low body weight
  • Deficient/ poor nutrition
  • Nutritional disorders
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Low calcium uptake
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Frequent falls

Predispository Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Female gender
  • Family history
  • Previous fracture
  • Race/ Nationality
  • Menopause/ Hysterectomy
  • Long-term therapy with glucocorticoids
  • Primary/ secondary hypogonadism in men