Womens Health


What is it and who has it?

Osteoporosis, as defined by Encarta Dictionary, is a disease occurring especially in women after menopause in which the bones become very porous, break easily, and heal slowly.  It may lead to curvature of the spine after the vertebrae collapse.

Some statistics indicate that one in two women over the age of 50 will have a bone fracture, related to osteoporosis, in their lifetimes - and won't discover they have the disease until that time.   This disease can begin in childhood, but doesn't come to the fore until adulthood.  The way our bone mass develops through childhood, by exercise and a vitamin D and calcium rich diet, has great bearing on the effect of osteoporosis in adulthood.  A poor childhood diet and lack of exercise may have far reaching effects in terms of reaching peak bone mass.

Elizabeth Nagelin-Anderson, MA, writes that, "In the five to seven years following menopause, when estrogen levels fall and bone loss is the most rapid, women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis."

She goes on to say, "Since diet and exercise have been shown to prevent and treat osteoporosis, the NIH recommends that hormones be used to treat the symptoms of menopause only if the symptoms seriously disrupt daily functions or the enjoyment of life."

Here are some things that you can do to help prevent osteoporosis:

Ensure you are eating a balanced diet which is also rich in much needed calcium and vitamin D.  A little sunshine every day will give you enough vitamin D to help your body synthesize the calcium you take.

Get enough exercise, especially weight-bearing types like weight-training, dancing, walking and low impact aerobics.  Weight bearing exercises help to increase bone density, resulting in a possible decrease in susceptibility to fractures.  Besides, you'll feel and look better as you enjoy a fitness program.

If you enjoy a glass of wine, limit your intake to only per day, and if you smoke, it is advised that you stop.  Smoking has a very profound effect upon bone loss because it has been found to inhibit calcium absorption.  Calcium is critical to bone health.

Ask your primary health-care provider for a bone density test.  From the results it can be determined if you should be on some form of medication.

Keep in mind that you can take active steps today to help strengthen your bones!

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