Menopause and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones – Its name comes from Latin for “porous bones.”

The inside of a healthy bone has small spaces, like a honeycomb. Osteoporosis increases the size of these spaces, causing the bone to lose strength and density and the outside of the bone grows weaker and thinner. People with osteoporosis are at a high risk of fractures or bone breaks while doing routine activities such as standing or walking. The most commonly affected bones are the ribs, hips, and the bones in the wrists and spine.

The early stages of osteoporosis don’t cause any symptoms or warning signs. In most cases, people with osteoporosis don’t know they have the condition until they have a fracture. Some of the earlier symptoms, if they appear may include receding gums, weakened grip strength, weak and brittle nails.  If you don’t have symptoms but have a family history of osteoporosis, talking to your GP or health professional can help you assess your risk.

Possible causes of osteoporosis include certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism. They also include the use of certain medications (examples include long-term oral or injected corticosteroids such as prednisolone or cortisone)

What are the risk factors?

The biggest risk factor of osteoporosis is age. Throughout your life, your body breaks down old bone and grows new bone. However, when you’re in your 30s, your body starts breaking down bone faster than it’s able to replace it. This leads to bone that’s less dense and more fragile and more prone to breakage.

Menopause is another primary risk factor that occurs in women around the ages of 45 to 55 years. Changes in hormone levels associated with menopause can cause a woman’s body to lose bone even more quickly. Men continue to lose bone at this age, but at a slower rate than women do (by the time men reach 65 to 70yrs, they tend to loose bone at the same rate as women). 

Diet

To learn more about an eating plan that’s right for you, talk to your doctor. They can advise you on your diet or refer you to a registered dietitian who can create a diet or meal plan for you.

A high intake of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to increased bone mineralization during childhood and the maintenance of bone mass in young adults. Eating lots of vegetables has also been found to benefit older women. 

Protein is also crucial for maintaining bone health and associated structures (cartilage, ligaments etc). 

Supplementation

To keep your bones healthy, you need to include certain nutrients in your daily diet. The most important ones are calcium and vitamin D. Your body needs calcium to maintain strong bones, and it needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.

Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, and it’s the main mineral found in your bones. Because old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new ones, it’s important to consume calcium daily to protect bone structure and strength. The recommended level for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most people, although teens and older women require around 1,200 mg.

Vitamin D and vitamin K are extremely important for building strong bones. Vitamin D plays several roles in bone health, including helping your body absorb calcium. You can purchase Bioglan VitaGummies Vitamin D3 1000IU here

Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. This modification enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones. Vitamin K2 can also help the body better utilise any excess calcium in the body. Please consult a registered healthcare professional when taking K2 supplements.

Magnesium plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption. An observational study of over 73,000 women found that those who consumed 400 mg (UK standard is a maximum 375mg) of magnesium per day tended to have 2–3% higher bone density than women who consumed half this amount daily. View our Active Magnesium range here.

A condition that often can accompany osteoporosis is joint pain.
Glucosamine, chondroitin and msm (methylsulfonyl methane) are known for their anti- inflammatory properties and ability to ease joint pain. Many people take these supplements in a bid to ease their symptoms and support the natural processes of their body.

Glucosamine is natural component of cartilage, a substance that prevents bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain and inflammation. It might also help prevent the cartilage breakdown that can happen with arthritis. Many supplements aimed at treating joint pain contain glucosamine, which is one of the most well-studied supplements for osteoarthritis. When taken over a long period of time (years as opposed to months) at a clinically significant level, glucosamine sulfate may help to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. Studies suggest that it slows down narrowing of the joint space, a marker of the condition getting worse. You can purchase Bioglan’s Glucosamine Plus here

Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a building block of cartilage. It may also help prevent cartilage breakdown from osteoarthritis.

Exercise

Weight-bearing exercises are performed with either your feet or your arms fixed to the ground or another surface. Examples include climbing stairs, resistance training, such as leg presses, squats, push-ups, and weight training, such as working with resistance bands, dumbbells and/or resistance exercise machines (when you can have access to them).

These exercises help your muscles to push and pull against your bones. This action tells your body to form new bone tissue, which helps with strengthening. Studies in older men and women who performed weight-bearing exercise showed increases in bone mineral density, bone strength and bone size, as well as reductions in markers of bone turnover and inflammation.

This isn’t your only benefit from exercise, in addition to its many positive effects on weight and heart health, exercise can also improve your balance and coordination, which can help you avoid falls. Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Osteopenia vs Osteoporosis

If your doctor tells you that you have osteopenia, you may think you misheard the word “osteoporosis.” However, osteopenia is a separate condition from osteoporosis.

Unlike osteoporosis, osteopenia is not a disease. Rather, it’s the state of having low bone density. With osteopenia, your bones aren’t as dense as normal, but they’re not as weakened as they are if you have osteoporosis.

In many cases, osteopenia can lead to osteoporosis, so if you have osteopenia, you should take steps to strengthen your bones.

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