Tag Archives: National Osteoporosis Society

Healthy Summer Soup

 Don’t leave Watercress on the

 side of your plate

English: Watercress beds Watercress beds on Ew...

Watercress beds on Ewelme brook  Wikipedia

 

 

 

Watercress grows in clear running water;  photo shows beds at Ewelwe, in Oxfordshire, where it has grown since the time of Chaucerat least – his grand-daughter lived here and apparently he visited often.

The National Osteoporosis Society likes this vegetable, bursting with nutrients Continue reading

Another step forward in Osteoporosis 'battle'

But it could be two years

 

for benefit to kick in

 

 

Mrs Claire L Severgnini, Chief Executive of the National Osteoporosis Society, is delighted with the news, just announced, to include osteoporosis in the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) of the UK wide GP contract for 2012/13.

As she says, “this decision has the potential to transform the care that GPs provide for older patients who are at risk of broken bones”.

Now it is up to you to point this out to your GP

Don’t expect your GP (unless you are very lucky) to have taken notice, unless they have an interest.  I had sent the announcement over to my local surgery, only for the GP to dismiss it, “I don’t have time to read emails, or keep up with all the latest information”.

So start asking

  • for assessments
  • exercise classes
  • better control over suitable medicines, etc.

whenever you see your GP.

After all, exercise classes for those with osteoporosis are held north of the Border – see  http://after-cancer.com/osteoporosis/where-to-find-classes-for-osteoporosis/

Campaign

This is something the National Osteoporosis Society has been campaigning for us over  many years, and those of you who answered the NOS’s campaign for “25 words” will know that when the petition was handed in to Downing Street, this went a long way to getting the QOFs.

Now, the NOS has  created a strong voice which is being heard at the highest levels of Government, driving up standards and improving services.

Information about what the QOF decision means for patients, carers and professionals is available online from www.nos.org.uk

 

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Patients should be treated holistically on NHS

Milk and cereal grains are often fortified wit...

Cereal is often fortified Wikipedia

Truth comes out

at meeting on Vitamin D

 

Getting to meetings at Portcullis House (that mega-monstrosity built to provide offices for our MPs) are always a strain.

First of all you have to queue for half an hour to get in to see these expense account fillers.  Then you file into a room for which the sponsors are charged a fortune, only to find it littered with empty plastic cups and water bottles – apparently each office cost £1 million per MP, but no water, let alone a cup of tea is provided.

But after all the frustration of long queues, my last visit turned up gold.

Invited by Yasmin Qureshi, MP, to a meeting to talk about 

Vitamin D;  Sunlight, Diet. Supplements – who gets enough

speakers treated us to a fascinating event, ranging over how important is this Vitamin, yet NICE guidance is most unclear, to the fact that 15% of the UK population are Vitamin D deficient, and “older people should be offered Vitamin D supplements – but aren’t”.

Sat Up

In the middle of his speech, Ash Soni, (Pharmacist member of that elusive body:  the NHS Future Forum – where he is currently leading the work stream on the NHS’s Role in the Public Health) told us “cancer patients should be treated holistically”.

He went on to say cancer patients’ treatment can be “criminal”.  He decried the way Oncologists will treat the cancer, but pay little attention to side effects of drugs they use.  One consequence is that these side effects can impinge drastically on conditions such as diabetes – yet patients are not told that this may happen.  When it does, cancer centres, unlike France and other countries, have no way of dealing with consequences, and patients are left to suffer on their own.

How much Vitamin D do we need?

Sponsored by PAGB (The Proprietary Association of Great Britain), the meeting informed us how much we need this vitamin – and how many patients who have been placed on Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) such as Aromasin, Arimidex, etc., are neglected.

Thinking back to the way I was casually told I ‘might’ get Osteoporosis when put on AIs, and sent off for an annual DEXA scan,  I can’t remember anyone measuring my Vitamin D levels; or even suggesting it would be a good idea to take this, in order to prevent the 89,000 hospital admissions for hip fractures a year – many of which are a result of this disease which can be a side effect of  AIs.

Producing a Vitamin D Overview, Mrs. Claire Severgnini, of the National Osteoporosis Society, gave us frightening figures.  Apparently just dealing with hip fractures – one of the consequences of osteoporosis – costs the NHS £6 million a day.   Yet a Cochrane Review in 2010 found a 28% reduction in the incidence of falls (prime cause of hip fractures) where Vitamin D supplement was used.

At £25 per patient per year for Vitamin D supplements for anyone over 65 in the UK , the cost would be £295 million.  Preventing a possible 11,558 hip fractures a year would pay for this.  Yet the NHS seems incapable of working out the monetary accounts , let alone the cost in human misery.

Yet when I try to talk to my local NHS hospital about steps to avoid falls – they pat me on the head and tell me I shouldn’t worry – they are well able to deal with fractures!!!  Doesn’t matter about the patient – just so long as the NHS doesn’t have to practice preventative medicine, long regarded as a bore by clinicians who are trained as surgeons etc.

Honesty from a GP – backed up by a Nurse

We were then introduced to Dr. Gill Jenkins, a GP from the West Country – and the sort of the-patient-comes-first’ type to whom we all warmed.  Admitting that the infamous QOF system, by which GPs get their remuneration, didn’t cover Vitamin D requirements, she said “vocational training doesn’t specially include nutrition”, which would bring this out.

Do doctors prescribe Vitamin D?  One admitted “only when asked”.  Well, the message was simple.  Demand your GP tests you.

Lynn Young from the Royal College of Nursing was another person with lots of TLC;  she spoke about the importance of Vitamin D;  this time the worrying signs that “Over the past few years we have been seeing cases of rickets re-emerging amongst children, which is a direct result of vitamin D deficiency”.   So doctors and nurses have an uphill struggle to make us more Vitamin D aware.

What to do?

There is no exact definition of the amount of Vitamin D each of us needs.  Different people will need different amounts of Vitamin D;  one of factors is how much sunlight we get per year;  another is if we eat enough of the right foods.

Good to eat:  Oily fish, eggs, liver.  In Scandinavia where they don’t get enough sunlight in winter, they have problems.  Yet in Iceland, with the same amount of sunlight and dark winters, there is no problem because their diet relies heavily on fish.

If you want to know more about Health Supplements, check out the Health Supplements Information Service.

  1. Have a chat with your local Pharmacist
  2. Check out Health Supplements on www.hsis.org
  3. If you have a CNS, ask for an appointment to go through options – especially if you are put on AIs, or reach age 60 during treatment.
  4. See Your GP to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D, otherwise prescribe these
  5. Contact the PAGB for information: info@pagb.co.uk     www.pagb.co.uk
  6. Ask PAGB for their notes on Vitamin D (set out in clear, understandable language, and giving info about levels contained in certain foods.
  7. Contact National Osteoporosis Society:  www.nos.org.uk     Helpline 0845 450 0230
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Where to find classes for Osteoporosis

Glasgow Science Centre

Image by bruce89 via Flickr

Glasgow Leads

                                                                                                      with Physiotherapy Services


Anyone lucky enough to live in Glasgow has a range of exercise classes from which to choose.

When will other areas follow?

Research shows that regular suitable exercise for Osteoporosis can help protect you from breaking bones in two ways:

  1. strengthening your bones (along with the medication prescribed by your doctor and a calcium-rich diet) and
  2. reducing your chances of falling.

You are at greatest risk of breaking a bone if you fall.  Exercise can improve your balance, co-ordination, strength and flexibility and therefore lower your risk of falling.

Regular, suitable exercise can also improve your posture, mood, general health, and help lessen pain from different causes, including arthritis.  Also, the fitter you are, the easier it is for you to carry out all your daily activities such as housework and shopping.

Glasgow’s Physiotherapy Service for Osteoporosis

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has a Physiotherapy Service especially for people with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

The service offers full assessment by a physiotherapist, which includes examination of your posture, flexibility, muscle strength,                                                                                                              walking, balance,

A view over Glasgow from Queen's Park in the c...

fitness and pain.

This provides a starting point to find out your particular problems, and make a plan with you for your treatment, including instruction and information on suitable and safe exercise for you to help your condition, and advice on posture and back care.

Assessment can take place at one of several Physiotherapy departments (see below).

12-week Exercise & Education Programme for Osteoporosis

Following your assessment the physiotherapist may suggest you attend local exercise classes, run by a Physiotherapist.  At these classes, as well as exercising, you will be given information on osteoporosis, posture and back care.  There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions.  During the 12 weeks there may also be a visit from an Osteoporosis Specialist Nurse and a member of the National Osteoporosis Society Support Group.

Physiotherapy-led 12-week Exercise & Education classes – available at the following:

  • Westburn Church Hall, Greenock       Tuesday 2.30pm
  • Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley            Thursday 9.45am
  • Glasgow Royal Infirmary                Friday 1.45pm
  • Gartnavel General Hospital                Tuesday 12pm
  • Southern General Hospital                Tuesday 10am
  • Mansionhouse Unit, Langside                 Friday 9.30a
  • Stobhill Hospital                        Thursday 2pm
  • Clarkston Clinic, Clarkston                Monday 2.30pm
  • Clarkston Hall, Clarkston                 Friday 2.30pm

 

Contact:   Craig Ross, Osteoporosis Physiotherapist on 0141 427 8311, or write to:

Physiotherapy Service for Osteoporosis
Clutha House
120 Cornwall Street South
Glasgow G41 1AF

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Austria offers superb treatment for Osteoporosis

HOTEL LAMM, SEEFELD, AUSTRIA

In  the middle of the charming Austrian mountain village of Seefeld, stands the Hotel Lamm – which has been owned by the Seyrling family for centuries.

Today, the family have turned their old Inn into a welcoming and efficient holiday hotel with a top-class medical centre;  now it offers first-class care and help for those with  joint pains, sports injuries, problems with your golf swing, and in particular Osteoporosis.

Visitors come not only for walking in the mountains, ski-ing and snowboarding – but also to have medical problems sorted out by the hotel’s first class medical team.  And I had come to get help with managing Osteoporosis.

Why go for treatment?

In Britain, Osteoporosis is the ‘Cinderella’ of NHS treatment.  I was told by the National Osteoporosis Society that hospitals should have a dedicated Falls/Fracture  Nurse who would deal with this, and on-going treatment to help prevent problems.

Reality is different. Trying to get the NHS to treat Osteoporosis is difficult, to say the least.  My local Foundation hospital gave me the impression that I was being a fuss-pot asking for exercise classes;  no, they didn’t offer these – but told me that if I developed a fracture due to a fall, they had all the equipment to set my bones and deal with this (cost? around £12,000 to the NHS).  They didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in the possibility of preventing falls – that was asking for the moon.  But kept on suggesting “you should go private”.

David Cameron and Andrew Lansley have told us “medical treatment is better in Europe” but when asked what are they doing about getting NHS to learn and copy – they cower behind minions trained not to answer  So, with no help from NHS,  it was time to stop pussy-footing around and go and see for myself what we could copy from Austria.  My health was worth the cost of a short break – surely?

Friends recommended the Hotel Lamm in Seefeld, half an hour from Innsbruck, and I was looking forward to combining a holiday with some specialised medical treatments.   Having everything under one roof meant there wouldn’t be any time wasted, and it was about time I ‘invested’ in my health, rather than moaning about the lack of care provided by the NHS.

The hotel works in the Austrian medical system, which means you can go there without a referral letter – although if you bring one from your doctor this cuts  down the time taken for your assessment.

What happens

First was an interview with Dr. Eva Dirnberger, resident Orthoapedic specialist at the AlpenMedHotel Lamm, in charge of their state-of-the-art medical centre.

Dr. Eva Dirnberger

Speaking faultless English (after three years in USA), Dr. Dirnberger took me through my medical history, then told me what their centre could do for me.  She was so reassuring:  no lectures, no pompous ‘we know best’, but a genuine warmth that came over with the message that she and her team were there to make our bodies perform better.

“We have many people who come here with problems” from Germany, Switzerland and other countries, and they are looking to get attention to small medical problems that, if sorted out, will give them a better quality of life”.

There were others, like myself, who wanted to get the best attention possible to help us live a healthier and less painful life – especially when it came to bone and joint problems – and to establish a routine that wasn’t too demanding  when we returned home.

She suggested exercise Aquagym classes in the pool with its specially programmed water jets;  then she said she would usually recommend two short sessions a day in their Cryotherapy chamber, but after looking at my medical history Dr. Dirnberger made me make the decision that perhaps, having had polio, it wasn’t for me.  Then she sent me off to Arianne.

Arianne gave me TLC that works

Arianne really knew her stuff.  Telling me she was a Physotherapist, it was soon obvious that she was a Physio who had had fantastic training (in the Netherlands, as it happens).   She told me that as I had Osteoporosis, she was going to give me exercises to help my co-ordination, strength and balance.  “The main thing is to prevent falls”.

She then took me through a series of exercises that would be easy for me to remember when I got home;  some I knew already, but she gave me little ‘twists’ to make them more interesting, all the time explaining the theory behind the exercise, so I could ensure I was doing them properly.

This actually not only makes it easier to remember exercises, but when you have an explanation of which muscles you are working, and why, you can see what you need to achieve.  It also makes it easier for you to self-correct if you forget anything.

Equipment

But what really warmed me to Arianne was her constant questions, “do you have this at home?”  as she took me through different exercises, using various items of equipment.

We sat on bouncy balls – but when, in answer to her question, I said I didn’t have one at home, she moved me off this and showed me how to do the exercise on a mat (below).

Start flat on the mat, with my head resting on my hands.

I then had to raise my legs slightly and also my head, so that I was gently making a U shape, then back to rest on the mat.

If you look below, you will see Arianne demonstrating more of her easy-to-do but sensible exercises.

Then she asked did I have weights at home?  If I didn’t, a good alternative was to use two 1/2 litre full water bottles.

She gave me therabands, as those wouldn’t take up any room in my luggage – and all along the practical approach was very reassuring.

The Gym had a mini-trampoline, wobble boards and a treadmill;  usually they would use these, but as I didn’t have them at home – we did without.

Watching me like a hawk, when she saw that something gave me a twinge of pain, she immediately showed me how to do the exercise to avoid this.  She made sure that the mat she placed was comfortable for me.  And was careful to make sure I was steady.

We did walking on tip toes, then on heels – all the time ensuring that I wasn’t overstraining.  Then on to lunges with one leg in front, then the other – all the time ensuring that I didn’t overbalance.  Standing up against the wall, she made me slide down so I was squatting – then up again (very good to do this whilst on the telephone!)

Then lifting my leg to right and left – all the while ensuring my toes were pointing ahead – not out in a ballet pose.  Then putting the theraband around a heavy piece of furniture, and lifting against it;  then standing on the band and doing arm-curls to pull it up.

Her enthusiasm made me want to go on, and I soon found the first hour had passed so quickly I hadn’t noticed.  I could have gone on, but she was adamant I mustn’t overstrain.  Then demonstrated some of the exercises again that are good for Osteoporosis, so I would remember them.  See below for her demonstrations.

Next day

It is very difficult for any physio dealing with someone who has had polio, and normally we expect to be in pain the following day after the first-time with an exercise regime.  But she had been so careful not to let me overstretch that when I woke the next morning there wasn’t a twinge. It was even better when I started walking around the hotel, and discovered that even after the first lesson, my balance had improved remarkably.   Now that, to me, is the sign of a superb Physio.

Walking

Arianne mentioned walking as being good exercise for Osteoporosis, and Seefeld was the ideal place to do this.  To add to one’s confidence, you are encouraged to take up Nordic walking, using walking poles.  These help you stride out, but also give you balance, so that you can tackle mountain paths with more vigour.   In the winter you can do cross-country ski-ing, from beginners idling gently along, to ten-mile hikes across the snows.

Swimming

Some mornings there is an Aquagym class, and this is the greatest fun.  When I tried out the massive, warm swimming pool, I found that every so often jets of water came on automatically – with each ‘station’ taking it in turn.  The instructor showed us how to use these jets to give us resistance and make exercises more “useful for you”.  (Translation, more difficult and to make sure we used every muscle to best effect!).

But the sessions were exhilerating,  especially the whirlpool which wizzed around in its channel.  When made to walk against it I found this beats half a mile of walking on a boring road any day!  To give us some gentle massage, there was a kind of jacuzzi where you lay on bars and gently did leg exercises – soothing and relaxing.

Again, all the exercises we were given could be done in the local club swimming pool – but sadly I don’t know anywhere in Britain where we have the whirlpools and other ‘toys’.

Ideal for allergy sufferers

Allergy sufferers in particular can take a deep breath in Seefeld’s ‘Olympiaregion’, so-called because they have hosted the Winter Olympics here.   From July onwards the region is considered to be virtually free of allergens, as the flowering season for grasses and pollen ends very early here.

Positive physical development

Seefeld is about 4,000 feet up on a sunny plateau overlooking the Inn valley.  Doctors say the Alpine climate strengthens the heart, improves the circulation system, activates the metabolism and reduces harmful free radicals

Special Offers

The hotel often has Osteoporosis Weeks, with special prices.  See their website for details.

Dr. Dirnberger is frequently asked to sort out sports injuries, and they even have a bag of golf clubs in the Gym, and all sorts of massive ‘hula hoops’ to correct keen golfer’s swings.

If you have Spinal Problems, they offer ‘Spineliner‘ assessment, which helps with many back and muscle problems, and is now also used in treating tinnitus.

They can arrange dog sledding, where you can either take out a team and learn to ‘mush’ as you run behind them, or you can sit in a pulka (sled) and have a team pull you along.

And if you are in pain, do investigate their Cryotherapy Chamber.  This goes down to an impressive 110 below – and is used by Continental sports stars as part of their training regime.

Getting there

You can make the journey part of the holiday – I flew out Business Class on BA, and it makes life so much more convenient.  No worries about luggage (there is a large allowance and your bags are tagged Priority so there is little waiting), a chance to have a civilised cup of coffee in their lounge, and pick up a newspaper – and cabin staff who are there to hand you a drink of water – or something stronger – immediately.  BA flies to Innsbruck in Winter, otherwise fly to Munich in Germany(flights from London and Manchester) and drive just over an hour to Seefeld.

Lead-in fares Heathrow – Munich in summer from £135.80 return.  Manchester – Munich £206.20 and Edinburgh – Munich £204.12   Services to Innsbruck start again in December with lead-in price of £127.40  – don’t forget all these prices include taxes/fees/charges.     0844 493 0787   www.britishairways.com

What to do

If you arrive on a Sunday don’t forget to pack a pretty frock or suit, because the Hotel Lamm hosts a Gourmet dinner for guests.  Believe it or not, the highlight for me was a Parsley Soup – totally dreamy.  The rest was pretty good too, and included slices of fillet of beef that you could cut with a fork, plus a fantastic-looking dessert, which looked wonderful, but was actually very light.

Otherwise every evening there is a delicious four-course meal, all cooked to order as you discuss the menu with your waiter at breakfast – and tell him any special requirements you have.   I adore the typical Austrian dish, Viener Schnitzel – so one evening they cooked this for me, and it was the lightest and most delicious schnitzel I have ever eaten.

Further Information:

COURSES:  Take aim at osteoporosis : includes

  • 1 detailed study of case history, investigation of spinal column and locomotor system by a specialist in orthopaedics – with consultation
  • 13 cryotherapy treatment sessions in the cold chamber
  • 5 personalised medical exercise treatment sessions (osteoporosis gymnastics, posture stabilisation/balance training, fall prevention)
  • 5 units of group remedial gymnastics
  • 1 final orthopaedic investigation with doctor‘s letter

Price per person € 855  plus room

Osteoporosis Week includes

3 treatments with the Spineliner

Price per person € 1,165 Plus room

Package can be booked any time for 7 nights!

For hotel prices, special offers, etc.  www.alpenmedhotel.com

For Tourist Information (Lilli in their office is incredibly helpful)  www.seefeld.com

Shortly there will be more ‘tourist’ information up on the ‘sister’ site, www.healthspanews.com

ARIANNE’S EXERCISES


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Osteoporosis, diet and who is at risk

A machine to measure bone density to check for...Machine to measure Bone

Density – Image via Wikipedia

OSTEOPOROSIS

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’, and if you are put on certain drugs e.g. Aromasin, you will be monitored in case you develop this.

The bones in our skeleton are made of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh which looks like honeycomb made up of bony struts. Osteoporosis means some of these struts become thin or break, making the bone more fragile and prone to fracture.

Bone loss occurs naturally in everyone as they get older, but broken bones because of osteoporosis are not an inevitable part of ageing, and there is much that can be done to prevent and treat them.

The National Osteoporosis Society is the only UK wide charity dedicated to improving the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

  • In the UK, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone mainly because of osteoporosis.
    • It is estimated that there are currently three million people with, or at risk of osteoporosis in the UK.
    • Osteoporosis costs the NHS and government £1.7 billion a year – that’s £5 million a day.
    • There are about 230,000 osteoporotic fractures every year.
    • 1,150 people are dying every month in the UK as a result of hip fractures.
    • The lifetime risk of fracture in women at age 50 is greater than the risk of breast cancer or cardiovascular disease.
    • Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones.’ Our bones are made of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh, which looks like a honeycomb of bony struts. When some of these struts become thin or break, causing the bone to become more fragile and prone to fracture, this is referred to as osteoporosis.
    • Osteoporosis is often referred to as the ’silent disease’, because it often remains undetected until the time of this first broken bone, which can occur in the wrist, hip or spine. Bone loss occurs in everyone as they get older, but these broken bones are not an inevitable part of ageing and there is much that can be done to prevent and treat them.

www.nos.org.uk

Helpline 0845 450 0230 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

Osteoporis
is a bogey we are told we MIGHT get. You can’t avoid it, if it is going to happen, but eating healthily gives you a better chance.
The National Osteoporosis Society recommends a healthy balanced calcium rich diet combined with lots of weight bearing exercise, like walking.
Adults should aim to eat 700mg of calcium every day.

You can find calcium in a wide range of foods such as:

• milk and dairy products, especially the low fat varieties

• green leafy vegetables (watercress, okra, spinach)

• dried fruit (dried figs, apricots and currants; Five figs provide 250mg of calcium)

• tinned fish like salmon, sardines, pilchards (provided you eat the bones)

• fried whitebait, sesame seeds and tahini are all high in calcium

Watch this space – Bon Appetit – and try snacking on fruit and veg to add the Mediterranean essentials to your diet.

Who is at risk of developing osteoporosis?

Men and women have increased risk if they:

• Have low body weight (women who are under weight or have developed an eating disorder)
• drink excessive amounts of alcohol or smoke heavily
• take high dose of corticosteroid tablets (taken for conditions such as asthma and arthritis)
• Living with medical conditions which leave them immobile for a long time
• Family history of osteoporosis, particularly if your mother has broken her hip
• A medical condition which affect the absorption of foods, such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease

Men with low levels of the male hormone testosterone (hypognadism) are at a higher risk of osteoporosis

Women are at risk due to a lack of oestrogen caused by:
• early menopause (before the age of 45)
• early hysterectomy (before the age of 45). Especially if both ovaries are removed
• missing periods for 6 months or more (excluding pregnancy) as a result of over-exercising or over-dieting

How do I find out if I have osteoporosis?

If you think you are at risk then you need to discuss it further with your GP. The GP will assess your medical history, including whether you have broken any bones or lost height, and may decide to send you for a special bone scan to measure your bone density.

If you have already broken a bone after a minor bump or fall you may already have osteoporosis. Other warning signs include height loss and kyphosis (curvature of the spine).

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scans measure the density of bones. This test is currently the most accurate and reliable way to find out the strength of bones and your risk of breaking a bone. It is a simple, painless procedure that uses very low doses of radiation. You will be asked to lie down for 10-15 minutes while an x-ray arm passes over you to take an image of your hip or spine. These scanners are usually in hospitals and not all hospitals have one, which can mean long waiting times.

Is there anything that I can do to make my bones stronger?
There is a lot you can do to try to build and maintain a strong skeleton that will help to prevent osteoporosis.

Calcium – Adults should aim to eat 700mg of calcium every day.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in bones and helps to give them strength and rigidity. Excellent sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, including the low fat varieties.

You can also find calcium in a wide range of other foods such as:
• green leafy vegetables (watercress, okra, spinach)
• dried fruit (dried figs, apricots and currants; Five figs provide 250mg of calcium)
• tinned fish like tinned salmon, sardines, pilchards (provided you eat the bones)
• tofu (a type of vegetable protein made from soya beans)
• fried whitebait, sesame seeds and tahini are all high in calcium

See the additional information sheet from the National Osteoporosis Society for more examples of calcium rich foods.

Vitamin D
You also need vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium. The best source is sunlight. About 15 – 20 minutes of sun exposure to the face and arms every day during the summer should provide you with enough vitamin D throughout the year, but be careful not to allow your skin to burn.

Weight-Bearing exercise
Bone is a living tissue and needs to be exercised just like muscles. Your skeleton grows stronger if you do weight-bearing exercise. This is any kind of physical activity where you are supporting the weight of your own body such as
• jogging
• skipping
• aerobics
• tennis
• squash
• badminton
• netball
• volleyball
• football,
• dancing
• brisk walking and
• even running up and down the stairs.

Try to exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of twenty minutes.

If you have experienced a fracture due to osteoporosis you should always consult your GP before starting any new exercise.

You can also help your bones by giving up smoking and watching how much alcohol you drink. You should aim not to exceed the government’s recommended limit. It is always good to have alcohol free days

The National Osteoporosis Society is the only national charity dedicated to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this fragile bone disease.

For more information about osteoporosis visit:
www.nos.org.uk or if you are worried that you might be at risk of osteoporosis call the
Helpline 0845 450 0230 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

How do osteoporosis drug treatments work and what will they do?
There are two types of cells at work in our bone. Demolition cells break down old bone and construction cells build new bone. Some drugs work by slowing down the activity of the demolition cells while others stimulate the construction cells to build more bone. Some drugs work on both sets of cells.

For more information about treatments, visit www.nos.org.uk or call the helpline on 0845 450 0230.

Recent Studies

Dr Alexej Jerschow, from New York University, is behind the new diagnosis method, and presented his findings at the recent annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia (i). Dr Jerschow uses an MRI scanner – already commonly used in hospitals – to measure levels of a substance called glycosaminoglycan (GAG). GAG is a polymer that holds a large amount of water and helps make cartilage tough and elastic. Indeed, a low concentration of GAG is linked to the onset of osteoarthritis and other cartilage disorders.

“Our methods have the potential of providing early warning signs for cartilage disorders like osteoarthritis, thus potentially avoiding surgery and physical therapy later on,” says Dr Jerschow.

If worried about osteoarthritis, you might like to ask your oncologist about Nutritional help from a supplement.  At a recent medical conference, mention was made that a growing number of studies suggest that a nutritional substance called glucosamine – which is commonly used by osteoarthritis sufferers –  is effective at both building new cartilage (ii) and helping to relieve joint pain (iii).

Glucosamine makes up 50 percent of the lubricant found within the synovial fluid – the fluid that surrounds your joints – so it’s involved in protecting against joint wear and tear. It helps your body make collagen and maintain healthy connective tissues, all of  which is needed for rebuilding and repairing cartilage.

Glucosamine is an active ingredient in supplement called OmegaFlex  (www.vegepa.com). OmegaFlex uses a vegetarian form of glucosamine called glucosamine hydrochloride, which is the most bio-available form (ie. the most easily absorbed). Until recently, most glucosamine supplements were derived from shellfish.

OmegaFlex also contains omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, all of which are considered to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

• Omega-3 fatty acids come in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from marine fish oil, which some studies have shown reduces inflammation and the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

• Virgin evening primrose oil provides GLA (gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid), which experts believe may improve joint pain and tenderness, plus morning stiffness.

• CLA – or conjugated linoleic acid – another omega-6 fatty acid may help relieve pressure on joints by reducing body fat.

• Meanwhile virgin olive oil (or oleic acid), an omega-9 fatty acid, is also thought to have anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory properties.

OmegaFlex is priced at £16.95 for 60 high-strength capsules, currently available direct from Igennus on 0845 1300 424 or http://www.igennus.com.

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