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Osteoporosis in Women

Fitness for mind and body.

Osteoporosis, otherwise known as the silent disease because it progresses in our bodies without any symptoms or pain. Many women are not even aware they suffer from it until they fall and break a bone.

Normal bone and osteoporotic bone

This is one of those conditions that occur over time, not over night. Osteoporosis is an affliction that affects 25 million people. In America, nearly one-third of all women will develop a severe enough case of osteoporosis to experience a fracture, severe back pain, or stooped posture. Osteoporosis can strike at any age.

When we are in infancy, our bones mass forms rapidly. It slows down during childhood and puberty and then takes an upsurge again during adolescence so that by the time you reach age 18, most of your adult bone mass is achieved.

During this time span, your bones are constantly depositing calcium so you'll have plenty to draw on through out your life. Bone mass will steadily accumulate until we reach the ages between 30 and 35 but from then on, your body is less able to get the calcium it needs from food. Thus, your bone mass will begin a slow decline or in other words, will break down faster than it is made. After the age of 35 most of us do not get enough calcium causing our bodies to start tapping into the reserves and as a result, our bones slowly but progressively weaken. After menopause it declines even faster.

Are You at Risk?

Figure of a healthy woman There are certain categories that will put you at greater risk. They are:

  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • You are small-boned or very thin
  • There is a history of osteoporosis in your family
  • You are post-menopausal
  • You use medications that are steroids, such as prednisone
  • You do not do any weight bearing exercise
  • You do too much exercise to the point of ceasing menstruation
  • You are Caucasian or Asian
  • Your diet is low in calcium and/or vitamin D
  • You are a smoker
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sex Hormones
  • Anorexia

More often than not, we get so busy with our day to day lives and we tend to neglect our health needs. Taking care of your bones and working to keep them strong should be a lifelong priority. Look at is as preventative measure. As they say, a little prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure!

Building strong bones early in life is an essential factor; however, many of us are past that stage of life and this then becomes a moot point. However, you can still help strengthen and protect your bones. First of all, a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and other minerals needed to absorb calcium, is the best prevention.

Be sure to include calcium-rich foods in every meal to get the recommended daily intake.

Detection of Osteoporosis

Speak with your doctor about Bone Mineral Density (BMD). BMD tests measure bone density in the spine, wrist and/or hip. These are the most common areas that easily fracture. The test for BMD is painless, non-invasive and safe.

BMD testing can:

  1. Detect low bone density
  2. Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have already experienced a fracture
  3. Predict your chances of fracturing in the future
  4. Determine your rate of bone loss and monitor the effects of treatment.

List of foods and their calcium content:

Foods with calcium

  • One cup 1-percent low fat or skim milk contains 300mg of calcium. (This amount equals 30-percent of the recommended daily intake.).
  • One cup 1-percent low-fat or skim Lactaid (a lactose reduced milk for people who have trouble digesting milk (contains 300mg)
  • One-cup plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt contains 300-400mg of calcium (fruited yogurts contain similar amounts). Read labels.
  • 1 ounce of cheddar cheese contains 204mg of calcium (choose reduced fat which has the same amount of calcium).
  • 1 ounce of mozzarella, part skim, low moisture contains 207mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup ricotta cheese, part skim, contains 337mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup cottage cheese, 1% low fat, contains 69mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve contains 103mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of ice milk, vanilla flavor, contains 92mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of ice milk, vanilla flavor, contains 92mg of calcium
  • 1/2- cup of turnip greens, cooked contains 99mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of kale, cooked, contains 47mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of cooked broccoli contains 36mg of calcium
  • 3 ounces of pink salmon, canned with bones, contains 181mg of calcium
  • 4 ounces of tofu (processed with calcium) contains 130-250gm of calcium (read the label for exact amounts)
  • 1/2-cup of cooked soybeans contains 87mg of calcium
  • 1/2-cup of cooked kidney or navy beans contains 30-60mg of calcium
  • One cup of calcium fortified orange juice contains 300mg of calcium
  • 1 cereal bar (Nutri-Grain) contains 200mg of calcium
  • 1 cup cereal, calcium fortified, contains 300mg of calcium

Other calcium-fortified foods are soy-milk, which has 200 to 400 mg in 1 cup, cereals, breads and juices that are calcium fortified. Check labels to see if the product is calcium fortified. After the age of 35, it wouldn't hurt most women to take a calcium supplement of some sort. Get your calcium levels checked at your next physical to be sure you could use a supplement. While it is difficult to get enough calcium needed for optimal bone strength from just your diet, it is possible your calcium levels are good and you are getting more than you realize. The bottom line is that it is much better for you to get your nutrients through your diet.

Our needs for calcium differ as we age. The following is a guide to tell you how much you need at different ages.

  • Ages 13 to 19:  1,200 to 1,500 mg daily
  • Ages 20 to 45:  At least 1,000 mg daily
  • Pregnant women:  1,500 mg daily
  • Nursing women:  2,000 mg daily
  • Over 45:  1,500 mg daily

Healthy bones also need a consistent supply of nutrients. These include magnesium, potassium, vitamin B-6, B-12, folic acid, and vitamins k and d. You can get the necessary amounts of vitamin D just being in the sun for 15 minutes a day. Calcium plus vitamins D and K to help absorption are also available in soft chocolate or fruit-flavored chews.

We all lose a certain amount of calcium daily through our urine. Excessive caffeine, salt, and animal protein increase calcium loss.

The human body only absorbs ten percent of the calcium from the foods we consume. This means that for every gram of animal protein you ingest, you need an additional ten milligrams of calcium. For every gram of salt you eat, you lose an extra five to ten milligrams. That means that for every gram of animal protein you ingest, you need an additional 10 milligrams of calcium. And for every gram of salt you eat, you lose an extra 5-10 milligrams.

Colas, both regular and diet, and processed foods that contain high levels of phosphorus also block our body's ability to absorb calcium. Too much sugar and the artificial sweetener aspartame can cause your body to secrete high levels of insulin, which will, in turn, interfere with calcium absorption. The result of this is the supplements you take with a diet soda or a glass of milk will end up in your urine. There is some good news; olive oil and other essential fatty acids appear to be positively associated with bone mineral density.


Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.