Osteoporosis affects more women than men, though either sex can suffer the progressive loss of bone density that leads to fractures of the wrists, spine or hips. Bone is not a static tissue- it is constantly being broken down and rebuilt throughout our lives. If less bone is being made than is disappearing it becomes porous and easily broken.

Osteoporosis often makes its presence known only when a sufferer incurs a surprise fracture after a minor fall.

Up to one in four women are believed to be at risk of osteoporosis, which is thought to be closely linked to fall in hormone levels during the menopause; this interferes with the absorption of calcium and slows the formation of new bone.

Particularly at risk are those who have had an early menopause or who have had their ovaries removed. Smoking, habitual dieting, prolonged absence of periods, and treatment with corticosteroid drugs are also risk factors. Heredity also plays an important part.

How can we help

Most of us consume enough calcium through eating the proper food and by taking supplements If necessary. The problem is that much of it is not properly absorbed and put into bone. This may be due to inadequate levels of Vitamin D3, which is synthesized into calcitriol, which in turn regulates calcium absorption through the gut lining and stimulates bone production.

Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone, formed by the action of sunlight on a substance in the skin. Taken as a supplement it increases the amount of dietary calcium absorbed into the bloodstream, stops most of the magnesium and calcium we consume being lost in our urine and ensures that more calcium enters the bone.

Eating a wide range of nutritious food and cutting down on alcohol, smoking, and caffeine, all of which leech calcium from the body, is the sensible approach to preventing osteoporosis. But it is also important to check that your digestive system is functioning properly.

Dairy products are by no means the best source of calcium.it would beĀ  better to increase your intake of green vegetables, nuts and seeds, tofu and oily fish, all of which contain large amounts of calcium and essential fatty acid as well as vitamin K.

Excessive meat eating should be checked, as this stresses the kidneys, which lose calcium as a result.