How can women protect their bone health as they approach menopause?

A well-balanced diet rich in calcium with regular weight-bearing exercise are important ways to keep your bones strong during and after menopause. Some women also require calcium and vitamin D supplementation or additional medications in order to ensure optimal bone health. Consult your physician before beginning any new diet, exercise regimen, vitamin supplement or other medication.

Adding calcium to the diet and bone-strengthening exercises can help bones stay strong and healthy. As women age, it is important to add calcium through dietary changes or supplements. Some calcium-rich foods are dairy products, broccoli, and tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (check the nutrition label). Be sure and look at low-fat options so you can continue to manage weight as you age. Weight-bearing exercise such as strength training may help make bones strong and healthy, and improving strength and balance helps prevent falls.

Dr. Lisa J. Broyles, MD
Family Practitioner

There are several ways to keep bones healthy and strong as women approach menopause. You are most at risk for thin bones if you are thin, caucasian and begin menopause early. Our bones rely on calcium and vitamin D to build new bone. The best way to keep strong healthy bones is to take calcium citrate with vitamin D as a daily supplement while performing regular exercise. Exercise that builds bone includes walking with strap on ankle and wrist weights, even two pounds weights can make a difference. Bones are stimulated to thicken when they are moderately stressed. Calcium citrate is a more bioavailable form of calcium than calcium carbonate and less likely to interfere with other medications you take. If you are on medicines for heartburn, these medicines decrease the acidity of your stomach and will prevent calcium absorption from your diet if taken together. Please take your calcium supplement the opposite time of day as your heartburn medicine for best calcium absorption.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake are critical to slowing bone loss after menopause. Calcium from dietary sources such as low fat dairy, deep leafy greens, soybeans and almonds is preferred. Vitamin D of 1000 to 2000IU daily is available as a supplement. While weight bearing exercise doesn't seem to increase bone mass in the after menopause age group, it does lead to fewer broken bones. This may be because you are stronger and have better balance when you exercise.

Your bones are losing mass, which makes them weaker (women can lose up to 90 percent of their estrogen, which causes bone mass to drop two to five percent annually for the five years following menopause). Two ways to help counter this effect and solidify your bones is to shore them up with 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium and 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D, as well as daily exercise. Strength training in particular is key here to minimizing bone mass loss and staving off bone-thinning osteoporosis. If you were a cardio freak in your younger years, now it’s time to embrace more strength training over full-time cardio. Having a few free weights lying near your television or walking shoes ain’t a bad idea.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.