Osteoporosis is the weakening of the bone as it loses density and mass. Typically, this comes with age but it can occur at any age. Osteoporosis is also more common in Caucasian and Asian women, especially slender women, but it can occur in women of any race.
Osteoporosis occurs by for most women as they age and their estrogen levels decrease. In addition to this, other causes can be family history, intense exercise such as long distance running (which reduces estrogen levels), long periods of bed rest from an illness, or extended use of common antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide.
Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because you may not have any symptoms until you have a broken bone. The most frequent breaks occur in the arm, wrist, or hip.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can protect your bone health. Women may choose the following to improve the bone health:
- Hormone replacement therapy: talk with your healthcare provider for the options available to you.
- Regular exercise: weight bearing and muscle strengthening. Try to exercise 30 minutes a day for 4-5 days per week
- Make healthy food choices: low fat milk and dairy, green leafy vegetables, fruits and fish
- Get enough calcium in your diet: If you eat healthy, you may not need a supplement. If needed, the Institute of Medicine has issued new guidelines as of Jan, 2011. Women ages 19-50 should have 800-1000 mg per day. Women over 50 should have 1000-1200 mg a day.
- Get enough Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps absorb calcium. The new recommendation for Vitamin D includes 400-600 IU/day for adult women ages 19-70. Women over 70, the recommended amount is 400-800 IU/day. Too much Vitamin D has not proven effective.
- Decrease smoking and alcohol
- Schedule yearly check-up’s with your health care provider.
Your healthcare provider will have screening tests they can recommend as you age. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to start early in life to make those healthy choices! Treat yourself to all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, not just this May as you think of osteoporosis, but throughout your life! Here’s to a healthier you!
Sue Ellen Dolan, RN, BSN