As we continue on with the topic of “things I wish my mother told me”, I am realizing that as I age, bones that I didn’t even know I had are aching. As we get older and creep towards menopause, our bodies begin to experience all kinds of deficiencies. Calcium loss is one of them. A drop in estrogen levels can cause the loss of calcium around the time of menopause. In addition to brittle bones or osteoporosis, this decrease in calcium can also lead to cataracts and alterations in brain function. After age 50, the bone loss and lowered calcium levels can lead to bone breaks in one out of every two women. Many health professionals agree that by the age of 35 our calcium levels begin to deplete. Therefore, inwardly this process begins long before we see any outward signs.
This weakening affects ALL bones and can also weaken your teeth, due to bone loss underneath your gums. Scary, right? We have to battle with hormones and hot flashes, faded menses, and the fading mirror, and now we must deal with possible loose and limited teeth? In addition to aging, inactivity, cigarette smoking, and low intakes of vitamin D, potassium, and/or protein can contribute to a deterioration in bone density. Certain medical conditions, such as overactive thyroid, endometriosis, and cancer, also play a role in threatening bone health. Even though this naturally occurs with aging, it doesn’t have to significantly or negatively impact you. It’s never too early to start taking charge of your health. Reduce bone density loss before it becomes a problem.
Here are some ways you can begin to prevent future or further bone loss.
- Increase your calcium levels – What does this look like? Meet your recommended calcium intake, which is 1,000 mg/day for women 19-50 years old, and 1,200 mg/day for women 50-71 years of age.
- Consume more calcium-rich foods – Leafy greens, sardines, yogurt or kefir, cheese, okra, and almonds, just to name a few.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D – Vitamin D3, which is the natural form of Vitamin D that our bodies make (Vitamin D2 is the synthetic form and our bodies find it harder to absorb and use this type) helps with calcium absorption.
- Get enough potassium and protein – Most adults fall short of potassium consumption, which isn’t a good thing because getting enough potassium helps improve calcium metabolism as well as heart health.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol – Having too much of either can contribute to bone density loss.
- Exercise regularly – I know exercise is always on my list, but that’s because exercise should always be on everybody’s list. It’s one of the most important things you can do to keep your body functioning properly, and in terms of bone loss, any consistent activity keeps the bones healthy.
Aging and significant bone loss don’t have to go hand in hand. As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to help maintain your bone strength and stay overall healthy!