CINCINNATI—Winter months can make simple outdoor activities a challenge, and dreary weather can leave you searching for sunshine.
Dima Diab, MD, UC Health endocrinologist and assistant professor in the division of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes, says this time of year can be especially rough on bone health, as icy conditions can cause falls and fractures and poor weather can limit the vitamin D supplied by the sun’s rays.
Osteoporosis, defined as reduced bone strength or weakening of the bones, affects approximately 10 million Americans. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that nearly 34 million suffer from low bone mass, a risk for osteoporosis development.
"People at risk for osteoporosis and those with the disease should be extra cautious during winter months,” says Diab, who offers the following tips:
Prevent falls on snowy, icy or wet surfaces.
Falls are a leading cause of bone fracture.
"Don’t rush and be sure to pay attention to where you are stepping and be careful getting out of the car,” says Diab, who also suggests wearing proper shoes and/or adding shoe traction devices to help avoid falling.
Avoid heavy lifting.
Get help lifting heavy objects and be sure to use the proper technique—bend at the knees rather than the waist.
Consider vitamin supplementation.
Vitamin D is needed in order for the body to properly absorb calcium, so just getting calcium alone isn’t enough. A deficiency of vitamin D can result in bone loss and muscle weakness.
Many people rely on the sun as a source of vitamin D, but winter months can send the sun hiding, so supplementing dietary intake of vitamin D may be necessary.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults over age 50 get 800 to 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily, and some people require more to stay healthy. Because most multivitamins contain only 400 IU, additional supplementation is often needed.
Don’t Stop Moving
Exercise is extremely important for the health of our bones, says Diab, so "don’t stop exercising due to the weather.”
Walking is always a good, low-impact exercise that can be done inside or out.
Diab sees patients at the UC Health Physicians Office in Clifton. Appointments or referrals can be made by calling 513-475-7400.