What is Bone Health?
Bone health means making sure that you prevent bone loss as you age. Over time, your body becomes less effective at replacing and maintaining bone tissue, meaning your bones can become small and brittle. Although this happens most rapidly after menopause, it can begin as early as your 30s. Although bone loss is a natural occurrence, there are some things that are known to cause it to happen faster.
Low Calcium Diet
If your diet doesn’t include enough calcium, your body can struggle to build new bone tissue. Your body naturally stores calcium in your bones and teeth, meaning a low calcium diet can cause the bones and teeth to deteriorate. Vitamin D also plays an important role in helping your body absorb and make use of calcium, so it’s important to supplement both of these if your diet doesn’t provide enough.
There are a lot of detriments that come with a sedentary lifestyle, but poor bone health is one of them. With the right exercise, your body can maintain strong, dense bones. Without it, your body may not be able to withstand pressure that comes with normal movements as you age.
Birth Control and Hormones
One reason that women experience bone loss more prevalently than men is the role of hormones. Estrogen plays an important part in your bone health, so many women experience increased bone loss after menopause when estrogen begins to drop off. Additionally, birth control methods that suppress estrogen can cause bone loss when used for long periods of time.
Why is Bone Health Important?
When you’re young, your body produces more bone tissue than it uses. Your highest bone mass usually occurs between 18 and 25 when it begins to slowly decline because your body makes less bone tissue. Once you begin menopause, this process accelerates, and some women can lose up to 20% of their bone density within several years of beginning menopause. This means it’s important to maintain your bone density as time goes on because your body will not be able to effectively replace it.
Bone loss and osteoporosis can greatly increase your risk of injury from breaking a bone as time goes on. In fact, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, your risk of breaking a hip is equal to your combined risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Additionally, bone loss can cause your dental health to decline, causing cavities to form and requiring expensive treatment.
What Steps Can I Take?
The most effective ways to maintain your bone health is through a healthy diet and effective exercise regimen. It’s recommended that women aged 50 and older should consume 1,000mg of calcium every day along with 400-800 IUs of Vitamin D. Depending on your gynecologist’s recommendation, this can come from supplements or a varied diet. You can find higher levels of calcium in foods like dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) and green vegetables. Foods that have higher levels of Vitamin D are fatty, wild-caught fish. It’s also sometimes added to foods like milk and orange juice. If you’re lactose intolerant, you should speak with your gynecologist about the best way to supplement your diet.
Getting sufficient exercise is another important step in maintaining your bone health. You should complete a regimen of posture exercises, hip and back strengthening exercises, and weight bearing exercises according to your fitness level to help maintain your bone density.
Finally, be sure to discuss your birth control options with your gynecologist to determine whether non-hormonal methods will be a safe option. If you’re currently on a non-hormonal form, your gynecologist can recommend the right timeframe for switching to a different method and maintaining your bone health in the meantime.
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Although many women struggle with maintaining their bone health, it’s not a lost cause. You can start early on optimizing your diet and exercise to ensure you have healthy bones for many more years. To meet with our gynecologists and discuss your options, contact our New York City offices by calling or filling out our online form.