Osteoporosis & Menopause: Everything You Need To Know
Did you know approximatelyone in two womenover age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis?
Even though osteoporosis is common - 80% of osteoporosis patients are women - many are still not aware of it.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.
It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break (fracture).
What Causes Osteoporosis?
There are many factors at play here! Many think "age" is the biggest factor, as our bones tend to weaken over time.
However, your gender plays a colossal role. Why?
First and foremost...
Women tend to reach their peak bone mass around the age of 25 to 30 years (the skeleton stops growing and the bones are their strongest & thickest). Even then, women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.
Secondly, this get's worse after menopause!
The hormone, estrogen, plays an important role in maintaining bone strength. However, during menopause - the estrogen level drops, resulting in increased bone loss.
In fact, if your peak bone mass before menopause is less than ideal, any bone loss that occurs around menopause may result in osteoporosis.
What Are The Symptoms OfOsteoporosis?
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. However,once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include:
Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
Loss of height over time
A stooped posture
A bone that breaks much more easily than expected
Trouble twisting or bending your body (pain when you do)
How To Reduce The Risk Of Osteoporosis During Menopause?
Here are a few lifestyle changes you might want to start working on (even before menopause, if possible) to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis during menopause!
1. Include Calcium In Your Diet
Orthopaedics recommend1,300 mg of dietary calciumintake every day.
That's basically consuming 84 grams of Parmesan cheese daily (as 28 grams has 331mg of Calcium).
Other calcium rich foods include - greek yoghurt, sardine, salmon, poppy seed, chia seed, beans, lentils, almonds, whey protein, tofu and more!
2. Include Vitamin D In Your Diet
Maintaining adequate vitamin D levles helps the body absorb calcium better.
Vitamin D is mainly produced in the skin following sun exposure, and is found in very small amounts in foods like - salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned tuna, egg yolks and mushrooms.
If you want to know more;here's an articlethat explains more about how you can fight Vitamin D deficiency.
Doing most type of physical activity most days of the week for 30 to 40 minutes is recommended.
This will help reduce bone loss, improve muscle strength, and also reduce the incidence of falls and fracture.
There are two main types of physical activities that are most beneficial to the bones:
(1) Weight bearing exercise
This refers to any exercise where your feet and legs bear your body weight. Example, walking, running, aerobics, tennis, etc.
Studies have shown a drastic improvement in bone mass when this activity is performed at high intensity.
This is a type of "strength-training" exercise. Unlike weight bearing, this includes some kind of weight like - machines, dumbbells, ankle or wrist weights - to create resistance.
This helps to build muscle mass and places a force on the bones of the involved body part.
Other Treatments For Osteoporosis During Menopause?
1. Visit A Doctor To Get Your Medication
Your doctor can prescribe & recommend you some over-the-counter treatments that may help. Such as:
Pain killers- acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These are safe for most people, but may cause stomach irritation or liver problems if you take the drug for a long time.
Prescription pain drugs- these can help you feel better in the short-term. However, they should not be taken for a long time.
Antidepressant medication- it can help people deal with chronic pain. Your doctor might prescribe this if you've tried other pain relief that hasn't helped.
2. Physical Relief
Other than medication, doctors may suggest other techniques that can help ease your pain!
Heat & Ice therapy- warm showers or hot packs can ease stiff muscles, while cold can numb aching areas and reduce swellings.
Physiotherapy- the pain may make it hard for you to be physically active. However, you may feel worse when you don't move much and physiotherapist can help you find a safe exercise program and teach you movements that can help you feel better.
Braces & supports- braces can help relive and support pain management in the limb that is hurting. It helps you move around normally while your limb heals. However, you should not depend on it for too long as it can make your muscles weaker.
Acupuncture, acupressure, and massage therapy- these may help ease the pain & tension.
Are There Other Treatments For Osteoporosis?
Yes, other than using pain relieve medicine, there are natural "alternative" that can help relieve the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which helps to build and repair bone mass.
Researchers in UK have stated that consuming 1,500 mg of curcumin for 12 months, can improve your bone density by upto 7%.
How? Curcumin blocks this protein called - beta amyloid - which clumps together and destroy neuron. It is also a phytoestrogen, which naturally mimics estrogen without any side-effects.
2. Black Cohosh
This herb has been used by Native American's as medicine for years! It contains phytoestrogen that prevents bone loss.
An animal study done in 2008 found that black cohosh promotes bone formation and improves bone density as well.
So, even though Osteoporosis sounds like a scary menopausal symptom. It is definitely manageable in the long run. We just need to start early!
Just reach out to your doctor and ask them for an X-ray & bone density test today!
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A healthy gut also helps to boost estrogen levels, promoting stronger bones and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
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