New Delhi: Almost one in three urban Indian women past the age of 45 has osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones fragile and fracture-prone. India, after China sees the most cases of osteoporosis in Asia. By 2050, half of the world's fractures will occur in India according to a startling new survey by the Arthritis Foundation of India.
"It's a grave threat. It's expected that there will be about 36 million people in the country suffering from it by 2013. Now that's a very big threat. It's almost increasing by 1 million every year," says Arthritis Foundation of India Chairman Dr Sushil Sharma.
At the Foundation's "Strong Bones, Great Women" initiative in Mumbai, Olympic weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari highlighted the importance of regular exercise.
"I want to say that all children, young girls and women should exercise. Exercising improves blood circulation and when you sweat it brings glow on your face. You also develop the resistance to fight diseases," says Olympic weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari.
There is obviously a link with calcium intake as well, but the prime reason for the spurt in osteoporosis in India, is a severe lack of Vitamin D. An estimated 90 per cent of Indians are deficient in Vitamin D, despite the fact that our own skin produces it, with even 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight.
The fact is, we build bone density only till the age of 30, after which the calcium levels deplete, which is precisely why a healthy diet and exercise are so important early in life. But whatever your age, especially all you women out there, go in for leafy greens, fish, drink enough milk, and soak in the sunlight.