Looking After Bone Health During Menopause
Oestrogen has a crucial role in the growth of bones and maintaining bone structure. Before menopause, bone is constantly renewed, keeping them strong. As you reach menopause the oestrogen levels in the body decline and therefore so does bone density. This can increase the risk of osteoporosis which is more common in women than men.
Osteoporosis is a slow and silent development and occurs when bone density declines and bones lose their strength, making it more likely that you may break a bone.
Strong bones should not break easily and should be able to withstand a fall from standing height. With osteoporosis, bones can break easily after a fall or even a bump: this is usually the first sign that you may have osteoporosis.
Are you at risk?
Both men and women lose bone density with age and women are at greater risk than men. In fact, women over 50 are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. This is because generally, women have thinner bones and live longer than men. Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Women who are thin (have a low body mass index) are at greater risk because they have less bone to lose than larger women with a higher body mass index.
If you have had an early menopause, including women who have their ovaries removed before the age of 45, you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis as you will have stopped producing oestrogen from a younger age.
A family history of osteoporosis is also an important risk factor in development of the condition.
Bone health tips
Exercise makes bones and muscles stronger. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, running, zumba and tennis are all good at preventing osteoporosis, you should be aiming to exercise for 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. Undertaking strength and balance workouts such as yoga and pilates can help you avoid falls.
Stop smoking - smoking causes your body to produce less oestrogen which protects your bones.
Too much alcohol can have an adverse effect on your bones and increase the risk of falling and causing a bone to break.
Eat a diet rich in calcium throughout your life to build and keep strong bones. Good sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, tinned fish with bones, broccoli, kale and other dark leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin D
Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Try getting out in the sun for 20 minutes each day between May and September. You may consider taking Vitamin D supplements, especially during the autumn and winter months.
Help protects your body against bone density loss. If you have had an early menopause and do not not have any contraindications to it, then you should take HRT. Your doctor will advise you.
This is the seventh in our series on Menopause. Check out our other articles to get a full understanding of what the Menopause means for many women.
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