Data from the Medibank Better Health Index indicates that Aussies suffering from osteoporosis may be more likely than the general population to be affected by iron deficiency/anaemia. So are these two conditions connected? We take a closer look at the state of osteoporosis and iron deficiency in Australia and explore what the potential links are.
Osteoporosis and iron deficiency/anaemia
According to the Medibank Better Health Index, osteoporosis and iron deficiency/anaemia affect 2.4% and 6% of Australian’s respectively, and these condition appear to be significantly higher amongst females.
Our data shows the rate of both conditions is relatively stable, with osteoporosis decreasing slightly since 2007-08, and iron deficiency/anaemia increasing slightly.
Is there a link between these two conditions?
One study conducted on 371 postmenopausal women in Turkey explored whether anaemia was a risk factor for low bone mineral density — which occurs when bones become weak and brittle and is the key indicator for osteoporosis. The study found that the number of participants who had anaemia was significantly higher amongst those with low bone mineral density in the femur and spine. While this study did indicate a potential connection, others exploring the hypothesis were unable to establish a link, and concluded that further research is required in order to confirm whether or not these two conditions are associated.
What can you do to lower your risk of iron deficiency and osteoporosis?
- Preventing iron deficiency: Ensure your diet includes iron-rich foods and nutrients, such as red meat, tofu, beans and lentils, and dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. If you think you’re at risk, it’s important to know what symptoms to look out for. While fatigue is the most common indicator, symptoms can also include dizziness, headaches, breathing difficulties, and cold feet and hands.
- Preventing osteoporosis: Include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D in your diet — such as dairy products, fish, and greens such as cabbage, broccoli and kale. Exercise can also play a key role in improving bone strength. Osteoporosis Australia recommends weight bearing exercises such as walking and jogging, and resistance training such as weight lifting.
If you think you might be affected by or at risk of iron deficiency or osteoporosis, have a chat to your GP, who’ll be able to recommend the best course of action for you.