Osteoporosis 101

Most women as they near menopause know they have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, but sadly, many women don't fully understand why and are in desperate need of postmenopausal osteoporosis information. Here is a brief summary of what you need to know to help you make the right lifestyle choices and informed healthcare decisions.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is essentially porous bone. The reduction in bone mass makes the bones weak and brittle. This can lead to stress fractures, which happens from the repeated use of a bone or from activities such as jumping up and down, and major fractures from falls and injuries, such as a broken hip.

Who Gets Osteoporosis & Why?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 8 out of 10 of those diagnosed with osteoporosis are women. Researchers believe that estrogen plays a big role in protecting women, but this hormone declines dramatically after menopause. Additionally, women tend to be more fine-boned than men. Caucasian women followed by Asian women are most at risk.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can necessarily be prevented, especially if you have a family history of it or are more genetically prone to it to begin with, but you can do things to help protect yourself.

Weight-Bearing Exercises: Everyone knows exercise is good for a person, but working out with weights is particularly important for women, starting long before menopause. Young women can still build bone when they are in their teens, twenties, and thirties. But don't worry, no matter how old you are, weight-bearing exercise can help strengthen your muscles, which will provide extra support for your bones. Yoga, water aerobics, walking stair climbing, and strength training with free weights and machines can all help you stay agile and fit.

Stop Smoking: Smoking isn't good for anyone or anything. The health risks associated with this habit are well known, and they can affect every system in the body, including the bones. It can also affect how well the naturally occurring estrogen in your body works. If you smoke, talk to your physician and develop a plan to quit.

Eat Well: Having a proper diet can go a long way in health in longevity. Unfortunately, the typical American diet of processed foods won't cut it. Eat a diet high in calcium, which you can get from dairy products, fish with bones, such as sardines, and vegetables like kale and broccoli. Products that have been fortified with calcium, such as cereal, are another option.

Hormone replacement therapy may be another option to discuss with your doctor to see if the benefits outweigh the risks. For more information on osteoporosis and postmenopausal osteoporosis treatments, contact a medical clinic.