Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and are more prone to fractures. It is also called as the ‘silent disease’ as bone is lost with no signs. Such fractures are common in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis can strike at any age but is most common in older women. It is more common in diabetic people than in the general population. Therefore, osteoporosis management in diabetic patients is a matter of concern.

The Link Between Diabetes and Osteoporosis

The Relationship Between Type-1 Diabetes and Osteoporosis

Type- 1 diabetes is related to low bone density. However, the exact cause behind this link is not known exactly. The beginning of type 1 diabetes usually takes place at a young age when bone mass is still rising. It is likely that people having type 1 diabetes attain lesser peak bone mass and the bone density. Usually, the peak bone mass is attained by the age of 30 years. Low peak bone mass is likely to raise the risk of having osteoporosis later in life. Studies have shown that the women suffering from type-1 diabetes may have an elevated risk of fracture due to vision issues and nerve damage linked with the disorder that increases the risk of falls and eventually fractures.

The Relationship Between Type-2 Diabetes and Osteoporosis

Even though individuals with type-2 diabetes have been found to have strong bones when tested but they still carry a high risk of fracture than the general population. There are several reasons for this. The general health problems associated with type-1 diabetes are also common in type-2 diabetes. Moreover, the inactive lifestyle common in type-2 diabetic patients due to being overweight hinders bone health. Researchers also believe that the increased fracture risk in type-2 diabetes may be due to the negative impact of the condition on the structure and quality of the bone.

Osteoporosis Management in People with Diabetes

The ways to prevent and manage osteoporosis in diabetic patients is the same as in non-diabetic patients. Following are some such measures:

  • Nutrition: Eat calcium and vitamin D rich diet. Calcium can be obtained from various dairy products and vitamin D can be attained from sunlight. In case you are not able to get enough sunlight then vitamin D supplements can be taken to fulfill the requirement.
  • Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises such as walking are best for bones. Also, doing exercise regularly helps to prevent bone loss. Exercise is particularly vital for diabetic patients as it helps the insulin to reduce the blood glucose levels.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol: This is not only important for the management of diabetes, but it is beneficial for bone health.
  • Bone density test: Specialized tests known as bone mineral density tests help to assess the bone density in various body parts. Diabetic patients should ask their doctor about whether they need to have bone density test.
  • Medicines: Both diabetes and osteoporosis cannot be cured but certain medicines can help in the prevention and treatment of these conditions.

How Omega-3 Is Important for the Management of Osteoporosis?

Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to bone health. They may help to increase calcium levels in the body, deposit calcium in the bones and enhance bone strength. Studies have also indicated that individuals who lack essential fatty acids (particularly EPA and gamma-linolenic acid [GLA], an omega-6 fatty acid) are more prone to develop loss of bone than those with adequate levels of these EFAs.

In a study of elderly women with osteoporosis, those who were given EPA and GLA supplements had considerably less bone loss over a period of three years than those who were given a placebo. Many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density during this time. In young healthy men, an 8-year study showed that omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA was positively associated with an increase in bone mineral and hence, with peak bone mineral density (BMD). The study by Weiss et al has observed a negative association between a higher omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ratio and bone density at the hip in both sexes.