Did you know you have more than 200 bones in your body? They hold you up and, along with your muscles, keep you moving, so it’s important to take good care of your bones. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Osteoporosis affects mostly older women, but since girls develop 90% of bone mass by age 18, prevention needs to start when you are younger. No matter your age, you can take steps to build bone mass and prevent bone loss.
Untreated Osteoporosis can lead to serious bone breaks or fractures, especially in the hip and spine. One in three women is likely to have a fracture caused by Osteoporosis in her lifetime.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Bone loss causes Osteoporosis. Most often, the reason for bone loss is very low levels of the hormone estrogen. And the most common cause of low estrogen levels is menopause.
Your risk for developing Osteoporosis is higher if you did not develop strong bones when you were young. If an eating disorder, poor eating, lack of physical activity, or another health problem prevents you from building bone mass early in life, you will have less bone mass to draw on later in life.
What Foods Can I Eat to Keep my Bones Healthy?
Get enough calcium each day. Calcium helps build bones and keeps them strong and flexible. If you don’t get enough calcium each day from the foods you eat, your body will take the calcium it needs from your bones, making your bones weak.
How much calcium you need depends on your age.
- 9–18 years: 1,300 mg per day
- 19–50 years: 1,000 mg per day
- 51 and older: 1,200 mg per day (Office of Dietary Supplements)
Vitamin D helps your bones use the calcium they get from the foods you eat. Not many foods contain vitamin D, so it’s added to common foods like milk, orange juice, yogurt, and cereals. You can also get vitamin D from canned tuna, salmon, or sunlight.
How much vitamin D you need each day also depends on your age.
- Women up to age 70: 600 international units (IU)
- Women 71 and older: 800 IU each day (Office of Dietary Supplements)
What Exercises Can I Do to Keep my Bones Healthy?
Choose weight-bearing physical activities like running or dancing to build and strengthen your bones. Weightlifting is an excellent way to improve bone mass as well as muscle mass. If you prefer more gentle exercises, Tai chi, yoga, gardening, and walking can slow bone loss, improve muscle strength, and help your balance. Swimming and riding a bike are great for cardiovascular health but are not great for bone strengthening.
Does Pregnancy Affect Bone Density?
Possibly. Your unborn baby needs calcium to help his or her bones grow. While in the womb, babies get calcium from what you eat. If you don’t get enough calcium from food or supplements, your baby will use the calcium in your bones.
You can lose some bone density during pregnancy, but any bone mass lost is usually restored after childbirth (or after breastfeeding).
Does Breastfeeding Affect Bone Density?
Yes, women often lose some bone density during breastfeeding, but this loss is temporary. Several studies have shown that when women lose bone mass during breastfeeding, they recover full bone density within six months after breastfeeding stops.
Do you live in the Northwest Arkansas area and are looking for a caring women’s clinic? The doctors and nurses at Creekside Center for Women are committed to providing the finest health care for women in a caring, friendly atmosphere. Call us today at 479.582.9268 to set up an appointment.
- Creekside Center: https://creeksideobgyn.com/osteoporosis/
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Calcium: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
- Office on Women’s Health: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/osteoporosis
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. 8th Edition.