What’s the leading cause of fractures (broken bones) among women in their 50s?
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million women worldwide, and 1 in every 3 women who are in their 50s have a fracture due to osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone.” This bone disease weakens the bones, by decreasing bone mass and strength.
A bone consists of a dense outer shell and a sponge-like inner structure. When you have osteoporosis, the holes in the sponge become larger or increase in number resulting in a weaker internal bone structure.
It is difficult for you to detect if you have osteoporosis because there are no signs and symptoms in the early stage of this bone disease. The manifestations of the bone loss would only appear once the bone structures become severely weak. When this happens, a sudden fall, bump or strain can result in a fracture or even collapse of a portion of your backbone (vertebrae). Keep an eye on your height and posture. If you lose height and have a stooping posture accompanied with severe back pain, then suspect collapsed vertebrae.
Why are Women in Their 50s at Higher Risk of Having Osteoporosis?
Women have a higher risk of having osteoporosis than men. In every four women, one has osteoporosis. Meanwhile, the prevalence in men is four times lower, which means this bone disease affects only one in every eight men. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million women worldwide. Likewise, one in every three women in their 50s suffers from a fracture caused by osteoporosis. Most of these women are Asian and Caucasian.
The majority of these women will have a painful fracture in the back or hips. The bigger problem is that once you have a fracture caused by osteoporosis, it is most likely that you will have another one.
Be cautious because a fracture can be debilitating. Many times, it requires surgery, and there’s a high chance that it will affect your mobility. You wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, would you? Then start protecting your bones from osteoporosis!
Aside from gender and ethnicity, another factor that increases the risk for osteoporosis is your family history. If your parents or grandparents have history of fracture or osteoporosis, then your chance of having this bone disease is high.
Most women have already reached menopause in their 50s. Menopause decreases estrogen levels, the female hormone that helps maintain a healthy bone density. Therefore, bone loss speeds up when estrogen levels drop resulting in osteoporosis in most women.
If you are petite and thin, you have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than women with a larger frame and more body weight. It is because you have less bone to lose.
The long-term use of steroid medications like prednisone also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
5 Tips to Protect Your Bones from Osteoporosis?
Knowing that you are prone to developing osteoporosis, you need to act now before it’s too late. Here are five tips that can help you prevent osteoporosis:
Osteoporosis Tip #1: Increase your calcium intake
Calcium is the primary mineral composition of your bone. A low calcium diet has been cited as one of the leading causes of osteoporosis.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Calcium in women who are between 50-70 years old is 1000mg- 1200mg daily. To consume your calcium requirement, check the following food list:
Osteoporosis Tip #2: Eat more green, leafy vegetables
Did you know that green, leafy vegetables play a significant role in keeping the bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis?
A study conducted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) revealed that the protein known as osteocalcin has protective property against fracture. However, the bones will only absorb osteocalcin through the help of vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that is abundant in green leafy vegetables.
Osteoporosis Tip #3: Get some sunshine
Calcium has always been number one in the list of nutrients required for healthy bones. However, the body could not absorb and use calcium without the help of vitamin D.
To have adequate vitamin D and promote calcium absorption, you need to have sun exposure of 15-30 minutes, four times a week.
The ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun help your skin produce vitamin D. You need to keep in mind that you should not use moisturizers with SPF value while enjoying the sunlight if you intend to get some vitamin D because SPF will block the UVB rays needed for vitamin D production. However, you may apply sunscreen after 15-30 minutes of sun exposure.
You can get vitamin D from some foods like fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, and cheese, but you need to eat a lot of these to achieve your dietary requirement. Eating one serving of any of these foods every meal will never be enough to meet your body needs for vitamin D. Thus, either you get some sunshine or ask your doctor for a vitamin D supplement. The sunlight is free though!
Osteoporosis Tip #4: Don’t let your stress hormones overflow
Are you exposed to chronic stress? You need to start reducing your stress levels now! Whether your stress comes from an unhappy relationship, financial problems, pressure at work or any other source, you need to find ways to relieve yourself from stress because excessive production of the stress hormones, cortisol, cause severe bone loss.
When you have excessive cortisol production due to stress, cortisol will leach off the calcium from your bones and the mineral goes back to the blood stream. Losing bone calcium weakens your bones and increases your risk for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Tip #5: Keep moving
With the presence of technology, your life became easier, as easy as you often barely move a muscle. The majority of us won’t use the stair and would rather speed up moving from one floor to the other using an elevator. Why would you walk if you have a car? For sure, you drive going to the next block, don’t you? Why would you go to the mall and exhaust your feet walking just to shop when you can have your orders delivered at home from an online purchase? Even food can be delivered right to your door!
On the other hand, this sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for many diseases, including osteoporosis. The fewer body movements you make, the weaker your bones become. You need to use your bones to keep them strong! If your lifestyle deprives you of moving, then establish an exercise program for yourself. Weight bearing exercises are highly recommended such as brisk walking, jogging, step aerobics, stair climbing, and bowling to make your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.
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