Being a woman puts you at high risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Have a glance at the following essential facts:
- Out of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million, or 80%, are women.
- Nearly one in two women over 50 years of age is estimated to break a bone due to osteoporosis. Therefore, older women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- A woman’s risk of breaking hip bones equals her combined risk of ovarian, breast, and uterine cancer.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones in the body become weak. This happens when the body’s pace of creating new bone tissues cannot match up with the pace of replacing the old tissues.
People with osteoporosis suffer from low bone density, which increases the risk of fractures.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
What is the leading cause of osteoporosis? Prolonged calcium and vitamin D deficiency is the primary cause of osteoporosis. Calcium and Vitamin D are the essential nutrients for healthy bones.
In women, osteoporosis is often the result of plummeting estrogen levels, leading to low bone density.
Another common reason is a desultory lifestyle that leads to inactivity.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
To check for the symptoms of osteoporosis, check for low calcium symptoms-
- Frequent back pain and in the hip bones
- Frequent and easy breakage of bones on minor injury
- Brittle nails
- Stooped posture
- Receding gums
- Loss of height.
These are all signs of osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor if you think you are at risk of suffering from the condition.
Why Are Women At Greater Risk for Osteoporosis Than Men?
It is unfair, but being a woman automatically puts you at a higher risk for osteoporosis than a man. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis impacts two hundred million people across the globe.
Why this gender disparity?
Women usually have a lower bone density as compared to their male peers. Also, they lose bone mass more quickly as they get older, which leads to osteoporosis in some cases. It is found that between the age of 20 and 80 years, an average white woman loses one-third of her hip bone density. During this, bone density loss of only one-fourth in women.
What Causes Osteoporosis in Women?
Following are the significant causes of osteoporosis, especially in older women-
Ovaries in the female manufacture estrogen hormone. It is responsible for preserving bone health as it metabolizes calcium. When a woman reaches menopause, estrogen production is reduced, which decreases bone density.
For this reason, older women are at increased risk of osteoporosis. Conversely, decreased estrogen is also possible in women who get their ovaries removed and are at considerable risk of developing osteoporosis at a younger age than men.
Is osteoporosis genetic? Women have genetically thinner bones as compared to men. It is believed that a man and a woman of the same age are evaluated for bone density; men will have higher bone density than women. Usually, the bone mass in both males and females grows at the same rate before puberty. However, after puberty, the bone density grows faster in males than in females.
A family history of osteoporosis can be a cause of the disease. In addition, it is a polygenetic disease, meaning the fate of this condition is determined by several genes.
The ageing process is faster in women than in men. Menopause is one of the major causes of speedier ageing in females, but it is not the only reason. One another important reason is muscle mass. Muscles cause stress to the bone and help in calcium deposition in bones. Males have more muscle than females, and muscle atrophy results from ageing slower in males. Females lose muscles faster, and calcium deposition due to muscle stress is not very powerful in females. This in turn is what causes osteoporosis in women.
Underdiagnosed In Men
Osteoporosis is primarily suspected in females due to their lower bone density. That’s why males are often underdiagnosed with osteoporosis, so there are comparatively fewer reported cases in males.
As there are more chances of women developing osteoporosis, it is recommended that every woman over the age of 50 years should go for regular bone checkups and bone densitometry tests. Early diagnosis ensures more effective treatment for the condition than a later diagnosis.
What’s Your Risk?
The issues concerned with bone health and osteoporosis depend on age and ethnic background. Older women and caucasian women are at the highest risk. However, low bone density and osteoporosis are typical in other groups.
Do you belong to the following groups?
- Caucasian Women
- African-American Women
- Asian-American Women
- Latina Women
- 20% of caucasian women aged 50 years or older are believed to have osteoporosis.
- More than half of all Caucasian women aged 50 and older are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker, but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.
- Approximately 15 % of Caucasians are lactose intolerant, making it challenging to get enough calcium.
- Between 20-and 80 years of age, Caucasian women lose one-third of the density in bone hips.
- 5% of American women over 50 years are estimated to have osteoporosis.
- Another 35% of them are estimated to have low bone density, which is a clear indication that their bone mass is decreasing, but does not yet have osteoporosis.
- The latest research demonstrates that even among African American women who have risk factors for osteoporosis, only a few are screened for the disease.
- Many American women do not get enough vitamin D, making it challenging to absorb adequate amounts of calcium.
- In the United States of America, African women are more susceptible than any other ethnic or racial group to have diseases that can develop osteoporosis. For example, Lupus.
- Nearly 20 % of Asian American women aged 50 years or older are believed to have osteoporosis.
- The majority of Asian American women aged 50 years or older are believed to have low bone density, which implies that their bones are getting weaker, but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.
- Nearly 90% of Asian American women have lactose intolerance, making it challenging to absorb adequate amounts of calcium.
- Nearly 10% of Latinas have osteoporosis.
- The majority of Latinas aged 50 years or older are believed to have low bone density, which implies that their bones are getting weaker, but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.
- Many Latinas are calcium intolerant, so their bodies cannot absorb adequate amounts of calcium.
Menopause: It Is The Time for Action
When a woman attains menopause, the estrogen levels in her body drop and thus leading to osteoporosis. This bone loss is severe and rapid for some women.
Following are the two vital factors that influence your risks of developing osteoporosis:
- First, how much bone density do you have when you reach menopause?
If you start with a good bone density, you will be at a lower risk for osteoporosis. But, conversely, if you start with a lower bone density, whatever the reason may be, you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
- How fast do you lose bone after reaching menopause?
In some women, the process of bone loss is comparatively faster than in others. For example, a woman may lose up to 20% of bone density within the first seven years of menopause. If you are losing your bone rapidly, you can quickly develop osteoporosis.
What Can Women Do to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Consider the following tips and keep osteoporosis at bay:
Consume More Calcium
When your body doesn’t receive enough calcium, it takes the calcium it requires from your bones. However, if you take adequate amounts of the nutrient, your body will not have to leach it from the bones.
In this way, you ensure healthy bones in your body. The amount of calcium your body requires depends upon your age and gender. The institute of medicine suggests:
- Adults need 1,000 milligrams
- Women older than 50 and men aged more than 70 need 1,200 milligrams
- Children ages 1-3 require 700 milligrams, 4 -8 need 1,000 milligrams and 9-18 require 1,300 milligrams.
The Best Sources of Calcium:
- Milk and other dairy products
- Dark leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and collards
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Canned fish with bones, such as sardines and salmons
- Bread made with calcium-fortified flour.
Get Adequate Vitamin D
Vitamin D levels are measured in International Units(IU). According to the Institute of Medicine, adults between 19 years and 70 years need about 600 IU regularly, and those over 70 need 800 IU daily.
The Best Sources of Vitamin D
The optimum source of vitamin D is sunlight. However, when you wear sunscreen to prevent skin damage, it blocks your skin from making vitamin D. To avoid the risk of skin cancer, you must not step out of the home on bright sunny days without wearing sunscreen.
However, in winter, people love spending most of their time indoors. So, it becomes difficult for your body to manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D. You can consume foods rich in the particular vitamin or take multivitamin supplements.
Other Sources of Vitamin D:
- Egg yolk
- Tuna, salmon, sardines, shrimp, and mackerel
- Beef liver
- Fish and cod liver oils
- Supplements for both Vitamin D & Calcium like Bio-D3 Plus Capsule
- Foods with added vitamin D, including some cereals, milk, yoghurt, and orange juice
Stress increases cortisol levels in the body. When this level remains high for a prolonged period, it can lead to bone loss. In addition, cortisol counteracts insulin and causes insulin resistance, gradually rising.
Doing weight-bearing exercises can be beneficial as it resists gravity and generates cells that create new bones. In addition, strength training makes the muscles pull on the bones, which leads to increased bone strength. Exercises also make you more flexible and reduce the chance of falls, which is a crucial risk factor for hip fractures. Following are some of the examples of popular weight-bearing and strengthening exercises you can include for stronger bones:
- Climbing stairs
- Water aerobics
- Tai chi
- Racquet sports
- Brisk walking
Also, you can consider the following exercises to improve your bone and muscle strength:
- Lifting free weights
- Lifting canned goods or bags of groceries
- Using weight machines
- Using an elastic resistance band
- Working out with barbells
- Using your weight as resistance
- Using weight machines
Get A Bone Density Test Frequently
A bone density test will measure the current thickness of your bone. It can help detect an issue or prevent one before it becomes a significant problem.
Smoking cigarettes can make a woman two times more susceptible to bone loss.
Regulate Alcohol Consumption
Drinking more than two standard drinks in a day increases your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Limit Cola Drinks
Studies suggest that colas contribute to bone loss more than carbonated soft drinks. It is due to the extra phosphorus in the cola drinks that combines with calcium. As a result, it prevents it from getting absorbed in the body. Another reason could be that the cola drinkers choose coals over calcium-rich beverages like milk or calcium-enriched orange juice.