Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Osteoporosis afflicts many seniors owing to low calcium diet

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Almost 20 percent of Taiwanese have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, but half of them continue to consume an insufficient amount of dairy products, according to a recent survey released by the Department of Health.

Last Friday was "World Osteoporosis Day."

The survey found that 8 percent of people aged between 45 and 54 have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, with that ratio increasing to 16 percent for those between 55 and 64 years of age and 21 percent for those 65 years or older.

The survey also found that post-menopausal women were much more likely to suffer from a negative calcium balance than men in the same age category.

It showed that half of people 55 years of age and older did not drink milk or consume enough dairy products, and 40 percent to 50 percent seldom ate soybean products -- another key source of calcium needed to strengthen bones.

By contrast, 70 percent of the nation's youth under 20 years of age took three to five servings of eggs, milk or goat milk per week, it said.

According to Yang Shu-hua (楊曙華), secretary-general of the Republic of China Osteoporosis Society, said that people with insufficient calcium intake were more likely to suffer bone fractures, especially elderly patients who suffer from poor vision and those who are partially paralyzed.

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to "keep as much bone density as possible" while one is still young -- between 25 and 35 years of age -- by exercising and sunbathing, she said.

Exposing oneself to mild sunshine for 15 minutes to 20 minutes a day is a good source of Vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption. Weight training also helps the bones to absorb nutrients.

She advised young women not to go too far in their dieting regimes.

"Reducing fat at the expense of bone density isn't worth it," she said, referring to those who follow an excessive diet, placing them at risk of developing osteoporosis.

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