Take steps now to prevent future bone loss
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 4:17 AM
Dear Doctor K: I'm a woman in my 40s. My mother and grandmother had osteoporosis. What can I do now and in the coming decades to reduce my risk?
Dear Reader: All people lose bone as they age. For women, that process starts to accelerate when they enter menopause. One reason for that is the lower level of estrogen in a woman's body after menopause begins, as estrogen helps to build bone.
Osteoporosis is not inevitable, and there's much you can do to shield your bones from this disease.
The basics of protecting your bones, such as getting enough vitamin D and engaging in weight-bearing exercises, remain the same throughout your life. But there are additional factors you should consider as you get older.
If you haven't yet started menopause, focus on attaining and maintaining as much bone mass as possible. The more bone mass you have as you enter menopause, the less likely it is that you will develop osteoporosis. That's both scientifically proven and common sense.
Monitor your diet. Get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. (I've put a table of recommended calcium intake on my website, tulsaworld.com/DrK.) Dairy products are a rich source of calcium. If your cholesterol levels are on the high side, use low-fat dairy products. And a growing number of foods, such as orange juice, are calcium-fortified.
Avoid cigarettes and too much alcohol. Both decrease bone mass.
Perform weight-bearing exercises regularly, as they protect your bones. Inside your bones are two types of cells: One type builds up bone and the other breaks it down. Exercise stimulates the first type and inhibits the second type.
Women experience their greatest period of bone loss during the early years of menopause. Once you reach age 65, bone loss tapers off, but you are still losing bone. If your bone density is below normal, talk to your doctor about whether you should take a preventive medication.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106