Australia: Seafood promoted as help to prevent osteoporosis Published: 30 May, 2006
AN increasing number of older Australians are at risk of fractures because of thinning bones, a condition known as osteoporosis.But people of all ages can help build and maintain strong, healthy bones by boosting intake of calcium and Vitamin D, especially from seafood, the Seafood Services Australia (SSA) claim.
Roy Palmer, Deputy Chair of SSA, said osteoporosis was a major health problem. About 300,000 Australians reported osteoporosis, while many others had the condition without knowing it, and, of people over 60 years of age, more than 50% of women and 30% of men suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis, the risk rising with age.
It is important that people get plenty of calcium and Vitamin D, because calcium builds bones and Vitamin D helps calcium absorption into the bones, Mr Palmer said. However, it has been estimated that more than half Australian adults are not consuming sufficient quantities of calcium and Vitamin D.
One way to get both is by eating fish. Canned fish like salmon and sardines, where you can eat the bones, are an excellent source of calcium that is readily taken up by the body, along with dairy products of course. Oily fish is also a recommended source of Vitamin D. At the same time, there is research from America indicating that the Omega-3 good oils in fish help fight the loss of bone that leads to osteoporosis in the first place, so seafood can help beat osteoporosis on at least three fronts.
Mr Palmer also welcomed the recent release by the Federal Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, of new guides on the health risks from calcium and vitamin D deficiency: The Calcium, Vitamin D and Osteoporosis Guides.
These guides will help address the problem with low intakes of calcium and Vitamin D, and improve the health and wellbeing of older Australians. The guides feature revised Nutrient Reference Values for calcium and vitamin D, with a higher calcium intake recommended for all Australians, especially 5 to 9 year olds, postmenopausal women and adults over 70 years of age.
In a separate statement, the Australian Academy of Science has warned that the problem of osteoporosis is growing as the percentage of older people in society increases. For example, the number of hip fractures in Australia is predicted to increase fro m 14,600 in 1994 to 20,900 in 2010 in the absence of effective prevention and treatment regimes. The direct costs associated with treating osteoporotic fractures in Australia already are estimated to total nearly $800 million a year.
Mr Palmer said SSA, a national industry-government body, was working to highlight the health benefits of seafood because of its positive impact on a range of illnesses, and so welcomed the focus on the benefits of seafood in relation to osteoporosis.
Community-wide consumption of seafood, particularly oily fish, two to three times a week would prevent thousands of premature deaths and save hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs every year, Mr Palmer said. The risk of serious illness involving heart attack, stroke, diabetes and bowel cancer, for example, can be reduced by seafood, and it also has a role to play in combating the growing dangers from osteoporosis in Australias ageing population.
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