Bone health is a subject that can cause concern and fear in women as they move towards and past menopause.
As women move into menopausethe bone-protective effects of estrogen during the menstrual cycle go away and then there are the effects from having a period each month.
Bone health can change and bones can be more brittle creating a higher incidence of bone fracture as we age. I have seen firsthand how an elderly woman falling having a bone fracture impacts her quality of life and health.
Oftentimes I have seen dealing with a falling and fractures has been one of the first signs of decline in health for women.
So as women start to approach menopause their thoughts turn toward treatments to keep their bones strong. The most common treatment that women take for bone health is calcium.
Most of my patients in their forties want to know how much calcium they should be taking to prevent osteoporosis, which is a weakening of the bone matrix. Osteoporosis is the leading cause of bone fracture in adults.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released a draft of recommendations suggesting that older women will not benefit from low dosages of calcium (400 mg or lower) and Vitamin D (1,000 IU).
The institute of Medicine recommended that women take at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of Vitamin D every day. The institute mentions that the exact amount of supplementation depend on age and sex but they don’t give specifics for each age group.
The recommendation brings a good point up about supplementation. Dosage and consistency are important.
If you decided to take supplements it is important to take the right amount and to be consistent so that your body will benefit from them.
Since the bone is made up of a matrix of nutrients I often recommend magnesium, boron, and B vitamins as well to help vitamin D work properly.
I also change the amounts and dosages for patients depending on the total health picture, so I can’t give exact dosages in the article.
I also make lifestyle suggestions for improved bone health.
Foods like coffee, alcohol, sugary foods, and high soda intake, as well as smoking cigarettes have a negative effect on calcium balance in the body and pull out calcium from the bones.
However eating a diet that is based on plenty of fruits and vegetables helps to incorporate many of the nutrients listed above and prevents the body from pulling calcium out of the bones.
Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, is essential for maintaining healthy bones. Exercise may be as important as supplementation for keeping bones strong.
Appropriate bone density testing is key as well.
Looking at bone health as a combination of lifestyle changes and supplementation can be the best treatment plan for good bone health.
Picture courtesy Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock