Have you noticed that you are not as tall as you used to be? Do you have a curve in your upper spine? These could be signs of osteoporosis.
Here are some current facts and statistics for bone disease in women over 50 from the International Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
* The average woman between the ages of 35 to 85 will lose 45% of her bone mass if she does nothing to preserve it.
* The average woman loses 10% of bone mass in the years around menopause and 1% of bone mass per year beyond the age of 60.
* Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide.
* 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, and 1 in 2 women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
* By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in women is projected to increase by 240%, and a 50 year old woman’s risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime is equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer and 4 times higher than that from endometrial cancer.
* Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll; and for women over 45, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in the hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, myocardial infarction and breast cancer.
* Many women who sustain a fragility fracture are not appropriately diagnosed and treated for probable osteoporosis; the great majority of individuals at high risk (possibly 80%), who have already had at least one osteoporotic fracture, are neither identified nor treated.
And not only women get osteoporosis. Men get it too.
So, what can you do? First of all, don’t go buy calcium pills and think that will fix it. If you take calcium alone, much of it will end up in places you don’t want it…like in your arteries or soft tissues and your bones will be brittle. You are probably low in magnesium and you need twice as much magnesium as calcium. There are other factors that play a role too such as boron and strontium (although you only need small quantities of these). And let’s not forget Vitamin D3. If you haven’t had your level checked, ask your doctor to order it because Vitamin D not only helps your bones but is important for lots of other things too and a deficiency is common. Prescription drugs for osteoporosis have not found to be very effective so a natural approach that actually builds bone is the way to go.
The same things that strengthen your muscles also strengthen your bones. You need weight bearing exercise. You can actually use weights or you can use your body weight by doing exercises like squats and push-ups. Don’t be afraid to use weights, either hand-held weights or weight machines like you find at the gym. Just start with the amount of weight that you can lift about 8 to 10 times before your muscles feel fatigued. Try to do three sets of eight with rest in between. Don’t work the same sets of muscles daily. Take a day off between. If you want to work out every day, work your upper body one day and your lower body the next. If you go to a gym, there will be people there to help you. If you are doing it at home, you might want to do a little research first. I recommend Miram Nelson’s book, Strong Women, Strong Bones.
Here's to your bone health!
Janet L Black, RN, FNP,