Because osteoporosis is potentially the most serious of the 34 menopause symptoms, it is the most important symptom to identify, prevent, and treat. Women are especially susceptible: three out of four adults with osteoporosis are female. Many women around age 50 who are experiencing menopause - especially women who did not receive enough calcium as teenagers - begin to lose bone mass at a rapid rate. This period of time is marked by low levels of the hormone estrogen, which plays a major role in calcium absorption in the bones. When estrogen levels are low, bones are vulnerable to painful and debilitating fractures.
Balancing estrogen levels can aid in calcium absorption and help prevent osteoporosis. Until recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was commonly used to treat menopause symptoms, but its established link to an increased risk of certain diseases has prompted doctors to reevaluate the viability of this option. To prevent osteoporosis, a combination of lifestyle adjustments and alternative remedies can be used first.
Three Approaches to Treating Osteoporosis
When treating osteoporosis, three approaches can be applied: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
Women are encouraged to start out with lifestyle changes, as they are the least-risky approach. Typically, medications are only used for particularly severe cases.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The primary approach to treatment involves virtually no risk, but on the other hand, it demands the most self-discipline. In many cases, minor lifestyle adjustments can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Getting adequate amounts of calcium is extremely important for strong bones. Vitamin D is also crucial for strong bones because it aids in the absorption of calcium in bones. Here are the recommended amounts of both calcium and vitamin D a woman should consume every day depending on her age:
Recommended daily dose of calcium
- 50 and older: 1,200 mg
- 19-50 years old: 1,000 mg
- 9-18 years old: 1,300 mg
Recommended daily dose of vitamin D
- Age 71 and older: 15 µg (600 IU)
- Ages 51-70: 10 µg (400 IU)
- Ages 19-50: 5 µg (200 IU)
Also, green leafy vegetables (collard greens, bok choy, kale, etc.), broccoli, sesame seeds, carrots (lightly cooked), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, oatmeal, shredded wheat, salmon and other fish, tofu with calcium sulfate, tomato sauce, nuts, and grape juice.
Foods to Eat for Osteoporosis
The following foods are rich in calcium, making them good to either avoid osteoporosis or slow its progression: Yogurt, skim milk, soy flour, and orange juice.
Another good way to regain bone mass and stymie osteoporosis is with strength training. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, stair climbing, push-ups, and other forms of exercise that make the bones support weight and impact help to keep bones dense and strong.
Maintaining healthy habits can also reduce the risk or severity of osteoporosis. Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes will go a long way to slow the loss of bone mass as well, since both substances quicken this loss in one way or another. Smoking reduces the amount of estrogen the body produces, and alcohol hinders calcium absorption. Reducing the risk of falling by wearing flat-soled shoes and avoiding slippery surfaces can help prevent fractures if osteoporosis has already set in.
Though lifestyle changes are a healthy way to address osteoporosis, they can be hard to put into practice. Additionally, many changes do not address the underlying hormonal imbalance that contributes to many cases of the disease. Alternative treatments, however, can balance hormone levels safely and effectively.
2. Alternative Medicine
This low-risk approach encompasses many possible options. Herbal supplements are the preferred choice, since they can balance estrogen levels. Other alternative options tend to require a greater time and financial commitment or are simply ineffective.
In terms of herbal supplements, two distinct kinds can be used to balance hormone levels: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
These supplements, such as black cohosh, contain estrogen-like molecules that come from plants. They can raise estrogen levels, but their long-term use is not advisable, since introducing external hormones to the body over time can lower its natural ability to produce hormones, eventually leading to a greater estrogen deficiency.
Instead of using outside hormones, these supplements, such as Macafem, function by optimizing natural hormone production thanks to their ample nutrients. This balances not just estrogen, but also other hormones. These supplements are considered safe because they carry little to no side effects and are completely natural.
From "Nature and Health Magazine," Dr. Gloria Chacon says:
"Macafem nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the endocrine glands." Read more about Macafem.
A combination of approaches - blending lifestyle changes and herbal supplements - is frequently the most effective method. However, if osteoporosis has already progressed significantly, medical treatment may be necessary in addition to the other approaches. It is important to first understand the related risks before beginning treatment.
Medical intervention, the last approach, entails the highest risk and is usually the most expensive as well. However, it is often necessary if the disease is advanced.
The most common medication for treating osteoporosis in the U.S. is hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. It can be a fast and strong way to replenish estrogen levels, but it also raises the risk of certain diseases like heart disease, as highlighted by the following study.
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health started the Women's Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial performed in the U.S. to this date. Its goal was to elaborate on the advantages and downsides of HRT, but it was stopped 11 years later due to the finding that artificial hormones can result in a heightened risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
There are other medications that may help treat osteoporosis: bisphosphonates slow the loss of bone mass, while teriparatide increases bone formation. They can be taken orally or received less frequently as injections. Before starting any medications for osteoporosis, it is crucial to talk to a healthcare professional. When it comes to bone health, prevention is key.
These approaches can be used separately or combined as necessary. More and more women are finding that a combination of lifestyle changes and alternative medicines is the best means of preventing and treating osteoporosis.
A Safe Way to Treat Osteoporosis
Making lifestyle changes:
- Eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and estrogen-boosting foods
- Exercising and strength-training regularly
- Alcohol and tobacco
- High-risk fall environments
- Excess stress
And taking herbal supplements to balance hormones:
- Nourishes the hormonal glands to promote balanced production
- An all-natural supplement that is both safe and effective
- Christenson, E.S. et al. (2012). Osteoporosis management in post-menopausal women. Minerva Ginecologica, 64(3), 181-194. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22635014
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Osteoporosis fact sheet. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/osteoporosis.html
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Osteoporosis. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/osteoporosis
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). 18 Ways Smoking Affects Your Health. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://smokefree.gov/health-effects