Osteoporosis is a predominantly female epidemic: of the estimated 10 million Americans who have it, a whopping 80% are women. Women of all ages can take steps to protect against arthritis by keeping their bones and joints healthy. From warning signs to treatment options, here's what women need to know about osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means “porous bone” in Greek—it's a disease that causes the pores already found in healthy bones to be much larger than usual. It is a result of losing too much bone or making too little, both of which can happen as we age. An individual with osteoporosis has bones that are abnormally less dense than those of a healthy person, leading to an increased risk of breakage. That risk can sometimes be so great that even bumping into furniture can cause a bone fracture.
What Causes Osteoporosis in Women?
Because your body generates new cells constantly, most of your skeleton is replaced every 10 years. Bones naturally lose their density with age; they are their strongest in your early twenties.
Low calcium levels are just one cause of osteoporosis. Women, however, are faced with another factor: estrogen. Estrogen deficiency in women often occurs after menopause, which can be followed by accelerated bone loss. Older women have a greater risk of osteoporosis and fracture as their estrogen levels are compromised.
Women's risks extend beyond age: younger women, too, can develop the disease. Women who stop menstruating at an early age, including thin athletes and those with eating disorders, have reduced bone density. Additionally, having both ovaries removed may reduce a woman's ability to produce estrogen and thereby lead to osteoporosis.
Symptoms of osteoporosis include back pain, loss of height over time, poor posture, and bone fractures that seem to occur abnormally easily.
Women and Osteoporosis: Facts and Figures
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide.
Caucasian women face a higher risk of osteoporosis than any other demographic.
When a woman's risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer are combined, it equals her risk of breaking a hip.
It is estimated that 50% of women over age 50 will suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis.
In the five to seven years after menopause, women risk losing up to 20% of their bone density.
How is Osteoporosis Treated?
While there is no known cure for osteoporosis, measures can be taken to slow or even stop its progress. These treatments include lifestyle changes, such as increasing your intake of vitamin D and calcium, getting enough (gentle) exercise, and taking medications to reduce your risk of bone fractures. Bisphosphonates, as well as hormones and hormone-like medications, are commonly prescribed.
What Women Can Do to Prevent Osteoporosis
For women, age doesn't matter—you should begin taking steps to prevent osteoporosis as early as possible. Taking simple measures to keep your joints healthy is absolutely the most important thing you can do to prevent osteoporosis and other forms of arthritis. Here are a few tips every woman should follow:
Get plenty of calcium. Calcium isn't just found in dairy products; there are also high levels in leafy greens and even white beans. As you know, this mineral is the most abundant in the body and helps keep your bones strong.
Soak up your vitamin D. Found in fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk products, this vitamin helps your body absorb calcium and improve bone density.
Quit smoking. According to the National Institute of Health, the more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk of bone fracture.
Exercise regularly. This is especially important for young women as their bones are growing, but the importance of physical activity extends into old age. Any type of exercise will do!
Take your supplements. A dietary plan would have to be impeccably followed for you to get all your necessary vitamins and minerals every single day. Taking natural supplements in addition to eating right can help you fortify your bones. The Healthy Protocol, LLC's Royal Velvet is known to increase bone density and improve your overall bone health through vitamins, minerals, and all-natural growth factors. Take it daily for your strongest defense against osteoporosis!