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Osteoporosis and Type 1 Diabetes

« WeCare Blog | March 8, 2021 |
Osteoporosis and Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can pose many challenges to day to day living, but its symptoms are manageable with key lifestyle choices and good healthcare. As people age, whether they are living with type 1 diabetes or not, their risk for developing osteoporosis increases. 

Since managing osteoporosis has its own set of challenges, it can feel like the symptoms of osteoporosis go against your efforts to manage your type 1 diabetes. 

If you are living with type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis, know that they can be managed together so you can live a long and full life. 

In this article, we provide you with the knowledge so you can better understand osteoporosis and how it may affect your type 1 diabetes. We will also provide you with useful tips so you can better manage both conditions together. 

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that affects bone density and strength. Bone density is a measure of the amount of minerals that are packed into the bone. Bone strength is the ability of your bones to withstand breakage when they experience impact or stress. 

If you looked at healthy bones and bones with osteoporosis under a microscope, you would see a notable difference. Healthy bones have small pores and have plenty of calcium, whereas bones with osteoporosis have larger pores and less calcium, making them brittle and causing them to break easily. 

Bone weakening and breakage resulting from osteoporosis is more common in people as they age or, for women, after they experience menopause. Other risk factors include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough exercise, low calcium levels, and having a family history of osteoporosis.  

How does osteoporosis affect type 1 diabetes?

Research shows that people living with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop osteoporosis. One of the reasons could be due to an interference in the normal process of producing bone cells, resulting in the bones becoming more vulnerable to breaking.1 

In fact, people living with type 1 diabetes are almost seven times more likely to fracture their hip than someone without type 1 diabetes.1 Other common fractures include wrist fractures, spinal fractures, and foot fractures. 

Treatment of osteoporosis for a person living with type 1 diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to improve bone mineral density. 

Additionally, your diabetes healthcare team will make several lifestyle recommendations that can reduce your risk of fracture while helping you to manage your type 1 diabetes. 

Lifestyle tips for living with type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis

One of the best ways to prevent your osteoporosis from worsening is effectively managing your type 1 diabetes. Diabetes complications, including neuropathy and hypoglycaemia, cause your bones to lose minerals, which leads to bone weakness.1 

Incidentally, many of the lifestyle choices that help you manage your diabetes are the same ones that help to reduce your risk of bone weakness and fracture. Listed below are some suggestions for you to consider.3 


Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Some good sources of these nutrients for people living with type 1 diabetes include:

  • Low-fat dairy, like yogurt, cheese, and milk
  • Calcium and vitamin D-fortified plant-based beverages and foods
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and pak choi
  • Oily fish like sardines, pilchards, salmon, herring, and mackerel
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Speak to your healthcare team about taking supplements, if you aren’t getting enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet


Carry out low-impact, weight-bearing exercise for 150 minutes a week. Bones become more robust with exercise, and exercise also helps your body manage blood glucose. Some ideas include:

  • Walking
  • Stairclimbing
  • Dancing
  • Weightlifting
  • Swimming
  • Cycling


  • Avoid smoking since smoking can trigger bone loss
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake, since it can increase your risk of falling and it can make diabetes difficult to manage

Before making any changes to your lifestyle, it is essential to consult with your diabetes healthcare team. They may want you to get a bone density test before making changes and ask you to get tests taken regularly. 

Also, always remember to work with and follow advice whether it is taking medication, following a diet or exercise plan given by diabetes healthcare team. 

Final Thoughts

Just like for type 1 diabetes, there is no cure for osteoporosis. However, both conditions can be effectively managed with lifestyle choices that promote healthy blood glucose levels and bone strength, in addition to following any medication regimens, as indicated by your primary care physician and diabetes healthcare team.

By leading an active lifestyle free of smoking, with limited alcohol intake, and rich in healthy foods and any other care practices, you have a greater probability of living a long, full life with minimal complications. 


1.    Khan T, Fraser L. Type 1 Diabetes and Osteoporosis: From Molecular Pathways to Bone Phenotype. J Osteoporos. 2015;2015:1-8. doi:10.1155/2015/174186
2.    2. Kanis J, Cooper C, Rizzoli R, Reginster J. European guidance for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis International. 2019;30(1):3-44. doi:10.1007/s00198-018-4704-5
3.    What People With Diabetes Need To Know About Osteoporosis | NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. Published 2020. [Accessed October 2020].