This is a disease that I feel very strongly about as my own mum is very badly affected by it. If undiagnosed and untreated, it will lead to fractures which ultimately can cause a huge loss of both independence and confidence. It is also largely preventable and if diagnosed on time can be treated very well through diet, safe supplementation and there are new pharmaceuticals that can help also.

The first sign is most commonly a fracture from a low trauma injury – a fall from standing position or less. My mum stood up from a chair but lost her footing and fell on soft flooring, she broke her knee cap and ankle and required convalescent care in order to recuperate, she still suffers with pain and loss of confidence while walking – this has led to significant loss of independence.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means porous bones. Our bones are living tissue which is constantly being replaced and rebuilt. They need vitamin D (AKA Sunlight), numerous minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc and boron, adequate sex hormones and plenty of weight bearing exercise, in order to remain healthy.

As we age our bones naturally lose more bone than is replaced, people with osteoporosis lose more than others and as a result their bones become fragile and prone to fracture from minor injuries or falls.

Who is at risk?

Osteoporosis affects both men and women and can occur at any age. Approximately 1 in 4 men and 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will fracture a bone due to osteoporosis. It is estimated that over 300,000 people in Ireland have Osteoporosis.

There are numerous risk factors, www.irishosteoporosis.ie is a very informative site in this regard.

The following are just a few examples:

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Use of steroids
  • History of eating disorders
  • Digestive disorders such as coeliac, crohn’s, IBS which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients
  • Stress – which can also lead to poor nutrient absorption
  • Various endocrine disorders i.e. hyper/hypo thyroidism
  • Menopause
  • Diet choices – Vegan, vegetarianism, low fat diets (calcium, vitamin D and protein requirements may not be met by these diets)
  • Low body weight i.e. being underweight for your height
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

The gold standard for diagnosis is a DXA scan of your spine and hip to determine bone density and is recommended if you are at risk.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis:

The first sign is a fracture from a low trauma injury – a fall from standing position or less.


  • Sudden severe episodes of upper, middle or lower back pain.
  • Loss of height (greater than 2 cm)
  • Development of a humped appearance (dowagers hump) and/or a change in body shape for example, the ribs appear to sit on the pelvis

There is generally no pain until a fracture occurs – this is why osteoporosis is known as a silent disease.

What can I do to keep my bones healthy?

  • Eat a varied, balanced, nutrient dense diet. Include:
  • Plenty of vegetables and some fruit. These contain a variety of vital minerals for bone growth and repair but also antioxidants and vitamin K which is also required for the utilisation of calcium. So green, leafy vegetables, colourful berries, avocados, kiwis – fill 1/2 your plate with veggies at every meal.
  • Good quality animal protein, such as eggs, fish, natural yogurt and other full fat organic dairy produce.
  • Include bone broth in your diet – it makes sense that bones would have the required ingredients for healthy bones! This is a helpful link to get you started – I use the carcass of an organic chicken after our roast dinner, I find simmering for 4-5 hours is sufficient. Add to your soups, casseroles, bolognaise etc.
  • The best way to keep your vitamin D levels as they should be is by getting adequate sunlight exposure – this means exposure without SPF. It is vitally important that you don’t burn but 15 minutes exposure to as much of your body as possible should allow sufficient vitamin D without burning. Vitamin D containing foods include eggs, liver and oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and herrings.
  • Get out and walk for 30 minutes a day, especially if you have a job that keeps you sitting for long periods.
  • Take a good probiotic (Udo’s Super 8) or even better include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir in your diet on a daily basis, this keeps your gut health good with lots of healthy bacteria who help produce vitamin K in your gut which in turn aids calcium absorption.

If you have concerns about your bone health, please talk to your GP, they can refer you to any necessary tests if required.

If you would like to take a supplement, please look for a food based supplement as this will be more easily utilised by your body than a synthetic version, and never ever take calcium as a stand alone supplement, it requires other minerals and vitamins to be effective.


Thanks for reading,


Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.