The definition of osteoporosis for those of you who are not aware of what it is, is a health condition weakening bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It develops over many years, and it often diagnosed when a fall or impact causes the bone to break.
Osteoporosis can affect men and women, although it is much more common in women. As well as this it can affect people of all ethnicities but more specifically white and Asian communities.
There are different reasons as to why women are more prone to getting Osteoporosis than men. One reason is due to their bones being less dense and the second reason is due to menopause – oestrogen has a protective effect on bone health and after menopause, our oestrogen levels plummet.
What causes Osteoporosis? As previously mentioned, oestrogen provides a protective effect on bones therefore anything that reduces oestrogen in women can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, like:
- Stopping your period for more than six months (other than being pregnant)
- Starting periods late
- The menopause
- Early menopause (before the age of 45)
- Surgical removal of ovaries
It is commonly known that calcium is needed for strong bone development, so it is important to eat a healthy and balance diet containing plenty of calcium-rich foods like dairy products and dark green, leafy vegetables.
Taking long-term or high-dose steroids also increases the risk so does medical conditions like overactive thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis and bowel conditions such as IBS.
When having these medical conditions, it reduces the amount of calcium absorbs from the food we consume meaning calcium levels in our bodies are also reduced.
Other than not having a balanced diet, people who don’t do enough physical activity are also prone to developing osteoporosis as their joints begin to weaken.
There are ways of protecting bones from osteoporosis. One way is to be as active as you can possibly be, especially weight bearing exercise. It is particularly important to maintain a healthy body mass between 18.5 and 25. Another way, along with many others is to take calcium-based supplements to guarantee you get the correct amount of calcium to have a beneficial effect on your bone health.
How can women protect their bones during the menopause?
It is essential for women to do as many of the things listed above after menopause in order to protect their health. As mentioned before, after menopause women have a natural drop in oestrogen, so we have some extra tips and advice to take to protect your bones.
- Post-menopausal women need more calcium in their diet than normal. It is recommended by health specialists that before menopause, women should have 1-1.2grams of calcium, compared to after menopause with a slight increase to 1.5grams.
- Vitamin D is a very important hormone for our bodies. Not only does it help levels of depression and is good for our mental health, it also helps us to absorb calcium from our diet into our bones. Vitamin D can be sourced from the diet, as-well as in supplementation form, try including foods such as salmon, tuna and mackerel in different dishes.
Unfortunately, Osteoporosis is not something which is planned but it is important to try and prevent developing it. So, is it really important to be mindful of your diet and as well as the type of exercise you do. Regular exercise is essential for everyone, adults aged 19 to 64 should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week. If you are diagnosed with Osteoporosis, it is advised to speak to your local GP, a medical expert or health specialist before starting a new exercise programme to ensure it is right for you. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended for everyone! Calcium is super important for maintain bone health. Adults need 700mg a day, which can be gathered through your diet, try including things like leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, tofu and yoghurt into your diet. Vitamin D is also important for helping with Osteoporosis. This nutrient is important for healthy bones and teeth as it helps to absorb calcium. It is recommended that all adults should consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. It can sometimes be hard to obtain this through your diet, so for those of you are particularly keen on things such as oily fish or red meat, consider taking a supplement that contains 10- micrograms of vitamin D.