About this time in life we start hearing about bone density tests and weakening bones. Why should I be concerned?
Let's start with a kinda scary fact: One third to one half of all women over the age of 50 will sustain a bone related fracture complication. As many women die of complications from osteoporosis, one in five, as they do from cancer and heart disease.
The good news is we can make changes and keep our bones health and strong.
Start by replacing your calcium. We do not make anymore bone mass after the age of 35.Your bones and your teeth make up 99% of the calcium in your body. The daily supplement requirement is 1,200 milligrams, and most of us are getting less than half of that each day. So, like a bank, we are losing more and more bone density, daily. Almonds, almond milk, tuna, vegetables, calcium supplements and fortified cereals and juices are a great source of calcium. Foods that rob your bone bank include meat, protein bars and protein shakes. Salt is number two calcium depleting factor. We all tend to eat too much salt, and this makes us thirsty. We then up our water or liquid intake; we pee more, and like the baby with the bathwater, out goes the calcium as well. And #3 culprit of calcium loss is alcohol, more than one drink a day and we are tapping into the reserves.
Put a little sunshine in your life. Vitamin D helps us to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. It protects us from rickets, osteoporosis and softening of the bone. Vitamin Sunshine may even ward off high blood pressure, depression, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. New evidence show it has been found to slow down cancer and tumor development as well. About 10-15 minutes twice a week should do the trick.
Exercise..everyday, maybe out in the sunshine. The trick here is weight bearing moving. The weight of the body has to be carried by the bones in order to stimulate bone strength. Walking and dancing are weight bearing, but swimming, cycling and yoga are not. Just add one to the other if you love to swim. A variety of aerobic, load-bearing, strength-training, and balance-enhancing exercises build the bones and stave off fractures.
Because teeth are attached to Bone, you may also experience a decline in the health of your teeth and gums. Bone loss will weaken the attachment of the teeth, and sometimes teeth will fall out. Easy on the carbonated drinks, they do a number on our teeth and our bones.
When your doctor does order a bone mineral density test, (BMD) there is no reason to be alarmed. The tests do not hurt and only take about 15 minutes. The tests are repeated every 2-3 years.
The duel-energy X-ray (DEXA) is taken of your spine and hip, and they have smaller more mobile machines that may scan just your wrist and heel. These two X-ray beams measure bone thickness. The scanning arm scans your body as you are lying down. This is used to check density changes. The report shows colored images of your spine and hip, etc. reflecting different densities. The scans are then compared to the bones of an average 35 year old woman, whose average score is 0. Your scores will range from -1.0 normal, -1.0 to -2.5, lower but stable bone mass, and -2.5 and lower, you have osteoporosis. Your risk of a fracture doubles for every point below zero.
Sit down with your doctor and together decide what forms of calcium fits best into your lifestyle. Remember that the earlier we start saving the in the Bone Bank, the better.
Co-Author of Menopause Master Plan
Corby Campbell Shields