Elderly people are encouraged to exercise more and increase their intake of vitamin C, a Taipei doctor has said, citing the high number of elderly Taiwanese with osteoporosis.
A growing number of people aged 50 or older, most of them women, have osteoporosis, family physician Shen Yi-ling (沈怡伶) said, adding that in serious cases the condition can lead to a fractured hip or femur.
“Bone deterioration is a chronic condition that worsens with age,” she said.
From 2016 to last year, the prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in Taiwan steadily decreased from 25 percent to 10 percent, but the number of those with osteoporosis remains high, at nearly 30 percent of those aged 50 or older, Shen said.
“It is clear that Taiwanese are eager to prevent high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as diabetes, but they haven’t been as aggressive in dealing with osteoporosis,” she said, adding that most people think that bone degeneration is an inevitable result of aging.
If older people with osteoporosis fall and fracture a femur or hip, it is a problem, because they can contract an infection while they are bedridden, she said.
People at an advanced age are at a high risk of dying within a year of a bone fracture, Shen added.
People at the highest risk of death or other complications resulting from a broken bone are those with a body mass index of less than 18.5, who do not exercise enough, and those with a history of bone fractures, long-term steroid use, smoking or drinking alcohol, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or thyroid problems, she said.
After menopause, women’s bones tend to degrade faster, and women are especially affected by osteoporosis as they tend to live longer than men, Shen said.
People taking medication for osteoporosis are advised to take vitamin D3 and calcium, which can double the effectiveness of the medication, she said.
However, even younger people should reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis by eating more dairy products, dried fish, sesame seeds, green vegetables, mixed nuts, oranges and kiwifruit, she added.
Sunlight is also important, as it helps the body synthesize vitamin D3 and improves its absorption of calcium, she said, adding that people should get 10 to 20 minutes per day of sun exposure.
Regular exercise also helps improve bone density, muscle strength and coordination, which can help prevent falls, Shen said.
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