Fact Sheets

Popular Factsheets – Calcium, Vitamin D, Exercise, Treatment

Calcium and Bone Health

A small amount of calcium is absorbed into the blood and used for the healthy functioning of the heart, muscles, blood and nerves. Bones act like a calcium bank. If there is not enough calcium in your diet the body will take what is needed from your bones for use in other parts of the body. If this happens your bone density (bone strength) will gradually decline and you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Vitamin D and Bone Health

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium from the intestine to support healthy bones. Vitamin D also plays a role in supporting growth and maintenance of the skeleton and regulating calcium levels in the blood.

Exercise and Bone Health

Exercise plays an important role in maintaining bone health. Research has demonstrated that when it comes to our bones not all exercise is equal. Bones benefit when a certain amount of impact or strain is placed on them making specific types of exercise most beneficial.

Osteoporosis Treatment and Bone Health

Most medications function by slowing or blocking the activity of bone removing cells (called osteoclasts) while leaving bone forming cells (osteoblasts) at work. This helps improve bone strength over time.

Medical Conditions, Medications & Bone Health

Anorexia Nervosa and Bone Health

The onset of anorexia mainly occurs during the teen years which is also an important time for bone development and building bone mass (with the peak bone mass normally reached by mid-twenties). People who have anorexia nervosa (or have suffered from it in the past) are at higher risk of having poor bone health.

Breaking a Bone and Bone Health

Any bone can be affected by poor bone health. The most serious type of fractures are in the hip and spine. Common fracture sites include the wrist, hip, spine, upper arm, forearm and ribs. Anyone who experiences a broken bone from a minor bump or fall, and is 50 years or over, should also be investigated for osteoporosis.

Breast Cancer and Bone Health

Most breast cancers need the hormone estrogen to grow and survive, and effective cancer treatments work by starving the cancer of estrogen. However, estrogen is important in maintaining bone strength and protecting bones. Reduced levels of estrogen leads to weakening of the bones and poor bone health.

Coeliac Disease and Bone Health

Coeliac disease affects the ability of the bowel to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food. This can greatly impact your bone health. A delayed coeliac diagnosis can lead to weakened bones and risk of osteoporosis.

Diabetes and Bone Health

Diabetes can be associated with poor bone quality. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can be associated with poor bone health (and related fractures). However bone density is impacted differently depending of the type of diabetes.

Glucocorticoids and Bone Health

Glucocorticoids can slow down cells that form new bone and result in the bones gradually losing some strength and can be prone to fracture. Glucocorticoids may also interfere with the absorption of calcium in the intestine and the way that the kidneys manage calcium.

Osteopenia and Bone Health

Osteopenia simply describes low bone density following a bone density scan (also known as a bone density test). Osteopenia is based on the result from this scan and is in the range between normal and osteoporosis.

Pregnancy and Bone Health

Pregnancy associated osteoporosis (also called transient osteoporosis in pregnancy) is a rare condition. The cause is unclear and woman affected can break a bone easily during pregnancy or in the weeks following the birth. These breaks normally occur in the spine and sometimes the hip. This can be painful and debilitating at the time – however patients do heal and pregnancy related osteoporosis is short-lived and most women do not have similar issues in later pregnancies.

Prostate Cancer and Bone Health

Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are aged 65 and older. And as men get older with lower levels of natural testosterone their risk for osteoporosis also increases. However, a dramatic decrease in this hormone level when men receive hormonal therapy may lead to low bone density and increase risk of osteoporosis and fracture in men with prostate cancer.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Bone Health

Rheumatoid arthritis is a particular form of arthritis. It is an auto-immune condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints. There are several reasons why people who have rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Thyroid Conditions and Bone Health

Disorders of the thyroid gland can affect the amount of thyroxine circulating in body, and this can have an impact on bone turnover. Over a long period this may affect bone strength leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis and breaking a bone.