‘Low calcium intake, Vitamin D deficiency widespread in Indians’

In a land of abundant sunshine, 50 million Indians are estimated to be affected by osteoporosis, that makes the bones brittle and fragile with age due to hormonal changes and lack of calcium and vitamin D in the body.

Medical experts sounded alarm bells about the disease that shows no symptom but makes the older population vulnerable to fractures. “It is a public health threat but majority remain undiagnosed and untreated until they fall accidentally,” said U.T. Vassan, Head, Joint and Sports Injury Centre of Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre.

Along with his team, he briefed mediapersons here on Tuesday about the importance of daily intake of calcium and Vitamin D from childhood to postpone osteoporosis. The World Health Organisation recommends daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg. “But Indians average less than 500 mg. It leads to low peak bone mass as years add on,” he said.

Consultant P. Prabhu Vairavan emphasised upon increased calcium intake with dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fish; adequate sunlight exposure to help in the formation of Vitamin D which regulates the body’s calcium absorption; and regular physical exercise to keep the bones strong.

Spine surgeon R. Vetri Nallathambi said the financial burden of treating fractures due to osteoporosis is quite high but because it is not life-threatening, people tend to be careless. “Osteoporotic fractures continue to be on the rise with the spine, hips, wrist and femur, the easiest to damage,” he said.

According to UNICEF, 25% of Indian women in reproductive age are under-nourished. With low calcium and vitamin D levels and less and irregular food consumption, they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis post-menopause. The incidence of osteoporosis, however, equals among men and women after the age of 60.

The incidence and severity of osteoporosis increased during COVID-19 lockdown, according to V. Sathya Narayana, Head, Orthopaedics and Traumatology, because people remained indoors with no exercise and their eating patterns changed. Osteoporosis can be managed with treatment but not cured, he said.

“Calcium depletion is a natural process of aging. People need to know the significance of building bone bank and achieve peak bone mass at a young age to postpone osteoporosis,” he added.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 9:35:57 PM |

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