16 Aug 2022

Mind your Bones - awareness campaign ahead of World Osteoprosis Day

Mind your Bones - awareness campaign ahead of World Osteoprosis Day

The National Dairy Council, in association with Cappagh Hospital Foundation, has launched an awareness campaign to educate consumers on the importance of bone health through the life stages.

The Mind Your Bones campaign covers the area of bone health and common musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoporosis ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on 20th October 2018.

The most common bone condition in Ireland is osteoporosis, with approximately 300,000 people over 50 years estimated to have the condition. However, it is often referred to as a silent disease as it can go unnoticed, without symptoms, until a fracture occurs. In fact, only about 15% of people with osteoporosis get diagnosed.

Dr Sinead Beirne said “As a GP, we constantly look out for high risk patients or signs and symptoms to identify the condition. If osteoporosis is suspected, we then refer the patient for a DXA scan, to test their bone density. Our bone health and strength are determined to a large extent by factors outside of our control such as genetics, gender and age. However, there are factors that we can control such as our diet and physical activity and these are particularly important during childhood and adolescence, when bones are still developing. A balanced diet which provides ‘bone-friendly’ nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin D, zinc and magnesium is important.”

Although women are more likely to develop osteoporosis, it also affects men and even children. Osteoporosis is more common in white or Asian women older than 50 years of age, but osteoporosis can occur in almost any person at any age.  At present it is estimated that of the 300,000 people in Ireland that have Osteoporosis, one in 4 men and 1 in 2 women over 50 will develop a fracture due to Osteoporosis in their lifetime.

TV Personality Mark Cagney developed early bone density issues at the age of 46 “I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis at 46 with a T score of minus 2.5 which means I had the bone density of a woman in her 70’s, undiagnosed and it would have been the bone density of a woman in her 80’s and very hard to treat. It resulted from an underlying condition and the doctor informed me that with the right treatment, diet and exercise would hopefully reverse this in about 3yrs, the treatment worked wonderfully and my last Dexa Scan results were a plus 2.5 T Score”.   

As we get older our body’s ability to adapt to the stress and strain of everyday activities can affect people to a varying degree. Factors such as birth deformities, age, lifestyle (e.g. smoking, alcohol, inactivity), as well as some medications can make us more susceptible to certain musculoskeletal conditions. If you are concerned about your bone, muscle or joint health, speak to your healthcare practitioner (GP, Chartered Physiotherapist, Nurse, Consultant).

To coincide with the campaign there is a comprehensive website at which includes useful information on bones and the musculoskeletal system, details on other common bone conditions such as Arthritis, Scoliosis and Sarcopenia, and a section on dispelling the myths associated with these conditions. Is also includes tips and advice from the expert surgeons at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Also supporting the campaign is Social Media Influencer and Personal Trainer Nathalie Lennon (24) who was diagnosed with very early stage osteoporosis.

“Our internal organ functioning, micro nutrient absorption, muscle strength and bone health are too often forgotten about in the race for a six pack. I made all these mistakes. I over-trained and overworked. I forgot to ensure I included all food groups in my diet, I forgot dairy was important, I forgot to think about my calcium intake. If I had not visited a dietitian, I never would have known the damage I was doing to my bones, in just a few years, I could have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. What kind of fitness and health advocate was I? My bone density fell to a lower than average point for my age, a scary realisation. It read 2.1g/cm3, the average for a female being 2.9g/cm3. It’s not all bad news! Luckily, we still have the capacity to build bone mass up until about 30 years of age so I still have time to build a stronger skeleton and nourish my bones with the nutrients it needs”

Dairy provides an important source of nutrients such as protein, calcium and phosphorus which have scientifically substantiated roles in bone growth, development and maintenance. The inclusion of dairy foods as part of a bone-friendly lifestyle is recognised by leading Osteoporosis authorities both nationally and internationally. (1)

The Department of Health’s guidelines recommend three servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Between the ages of 9-18 years, five servings daily are recommended due to the importance of calcium during this life stage. Examples of one serving include 200ml of milk, 125g of yogurt or 25g of cheddar-type cheese.

Top Tips for Healthy Bones throughout Life

Maintain a healthy body weight - Being either underweight or overweight can have a negative impact on musculoskeletal health. Being very thin or losing weight quickly can result in a low muscle mass (see sarcopenia). Alternatively, being overweight increases pressure on joints such as the knees, hips and back, thereby increasing the risk of pain and injury.
Good Nutrition - A balanced diet which provides adequate nutrients, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin C and vitamin D, are essential for musculoskeletal health.
Stay Strong - Weight-bearing, resistance-style exercises are particularly important for bone and muscle health – these include activities where your body must work against a force, such as gravity. Examples include skipping, running, tennis, dancing, brisk hill walking or simply climbing stairs.
Stretching - Exercises such as stretching, Pilates or yoga can be particularly beneficial for posture and supple joints. Stronger core muscles (abdominals and back) improve balance, helping to prevent falls.
Smoking and Alcohol - Refrain from smoking and if you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.

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