Osteoporosis is not a symptom of menopause, but a woman's risk for getting osteoporosis increases when she is menopausal and postmenopausal. Many women don't realize that they have osteoporosis until they experience a bone fracture or breakage. However, it's important to know what this disease is, what its risk factors are, and what treatment options are available. This can help you better take care of your bones, prevent osteoporosis from occurring, or more effectively treat it if you do get it.
The word osteoporosis comes from the Greek "ostoun," meaning bone; and "poros," meaning pore. Therefore, osteoporosis translates to "porous bones," referring to the low bone density that is part of osteoporosis. The decrease in bone strength makes your skeleton frail and more susceptible to fracture and breakage; even a fall that seems insignificant can cause injury.
Bone density can be recorded by an x-ray, which outputs a t-score. A healthy t-score is a reading greater than or equal to -1.0. A t-score less than -2.5 indicates the person has osteoporosis. It is important to get tested if you are at risk so that you can begin to effectively treat the condition.
During menopause, sex hormone levels, especially estrogen, decrease dramatically. Low estrogen levels are a trigger for the rapid degeneration of the bones. Because of menopause, women over the age of 40 make up 70% of those affected by the disease.
Other factors that can increase risk of getting osteoporosis are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and some prescription medications.
Diet is also an important factor when it comes to getting osteoporosis. If you are deficient in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, or vitamin K, there is a strong likelihood that you could develop this disease.
To keep your body strong, it is essential to adopt an active lifestyle. Those who lead a sedentary life may see the impact on their musculo skeletal system, which can become weaker over time. Regular brisk walking and strength training can keep your bones sturdy.
Make sure to eat foods that contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Calcium is found in dairy products and leafy greens. Magnesium is found in leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish and egg yolks, but most vitamin D is acquired through sun exposure. Vitamin K is also found in green, leafy vegetables.
If you think you are at risk for osteoporosis, talk to your doctor. Make sure you are getting enough exercise and eating the right foods. Remember, you cannot change your risk factors by changing your lifestyle for a week. Healthy habits take a while to build up and provide benefits. However, once you have a healthy lifestyle, you can protect your body from injury and take control of your osteoporosis or your osteoporosis risk factors.
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Osteoporosis fact sheet. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/osteoporosis.html#c
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Osteoporosis. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/osteoporosis
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Black cohosh. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/black-cohosh