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osteoporosis menopause ottawa

Osteoporosis and Menopause

As most of you know, Menopause causes several physiological changes within the female body. It is important to be aware of these potential changes so that you can prevent damaging effects and ultimately live a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, one unpleasant truth about menopause is that it is directly linked to osteoporosis, something that most people associate with ageing.

But what exactly is osteoporosis? It is the term given to the condition where the bones gradually become more porous (we get little holes in the tissue) and overall bone mass is lost. The end result is bones that have become fragile and weak, raising the risk of spontaneous fractures/falls. Osteoporosis is known as a silent killer because no pain is associated with this weakening of the bones.

As you approach menopause the levels of the hormone estrogen becomes lower  and your periods will occur less frequently. This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Due to the lack of estrogen, the bones cannot maintain their strength because they use this hormone as a building block.

It is estimated that the average woman loses up to 10 percent of her bone mass in the first five years after menopause.

Although bone loss and menopause are linked, there are several things you can do to actively reduce your risk of developing it in the future. There are medications on the market to help treat osteoporosis, however, your goal should be to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Ways to help Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercises: Lift things! Start strength training before you hit menopause so that you are strong. Weight bearing exercises and resistance training is proven to increase bone density due to the load placed on the bones during movements. For bone health, walking has just as many benefits as a higher intensity workout, so you do not have to go crazy in order to reap those benefits.

Diet: Your diet should contain enough vitamins and minerals to feed your bones the nutrients they need. A diet high in sodium (table salt and processed foods) will cause calcium to leach out of the bones. It is best to limit salt intake and to use sea salt / rock salt which contains a better balance of minerals.

You should also avoid carbonated drinks as they have a similar effect on bone loss. There is mixed research on Soy products, but some studies show it may also contribute to weaker bones.

Supplements: Take calcium every day (this can be found in your diet but supplementation is also recommended). Our bones also need Vitamin D to stay strong. Make sure you have adequate levels. See your nutritionist or health practitioner for recommendations on how much of these supplements you should be taking.

Don’t Smoke 

Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to be aware of it before it starts. Start with healthy lifestyle changes from a younger age. This will ensure strong bones prior to menopause and good lifestyle habits that are easy to maintain as you age.

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