Actions for Strong Bones for Postmenopausal Women
How can I protect my bones in the postmenopausal years?
The most important factors in protecting your bones is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Bone healthy behaviors should begin in youth and continue throughout your life. The earlier that you take prevention measures, the greater the benefit to your bone health.
Hormone balance is important and necessary to build and maintain strong bones. A normal menstrual cycle indicates normal hormone levels. Menopause can speed up bone loss and may increase the risk of osteoporosis.It is important to discuss your bone health with your healthcare provider, particularly after you have gone through menopause.
It is important for all postmenopausal women including those with a genetic tendency (family history) for osteoporosis to take bone healthy actions. Here is a start:
- Eat a variety of healthy (nutrient-rich) foods every day. Eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The average person should eat 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Get the calcium you need. It is best to get calcium from the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include low-fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark green, leafy vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, and turnip greens), canned fish (sardines, salmon) eaten with bones, and calcium-fortified foods. Try to eat a calcium-rich food at each meal. If you cannot get the calcium you need from food alone, speak to your health care provider about whether a calcium supplement is right for you. You need to consume only 1,000-1,200 mg a day from food and supplements combined.
- Get the recommended amount of vitamin D. There are only a few good natural sources of vitamin D, including fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna. Small amounts of vitamin D are added to all milk and some types of soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, yogurt, cheese, juice, and nutrition bars. Adults under 50 years of age should consume 400-800 international units (IU) or 10-20 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D daily. Adults 50 years of age and above should consume 800-1000 IU or 20-25mcg daily. Your healthcare provider may recommend more vitamin D than above stated amounts based on your individual needs.
- Be physically active. Your bones get stronger and denser when you make them work. Walking, climbing stairs, and dancing are impact (or weight-bearing) exercises that strengthen your bones by moving your body against gravity when you are upright. Resistance exercises such as lifting weights or using exercise bands strengthen your bones and your muscles, too! Tai Chi is an example of physical activity that improves posture and balance to help decrease your risk for falls and fractures. Exercise can be easy; try 10 minutes at a time, adding up the minutes to reach your goal.
- Quit smoking. If you do smoke, stop! Call 1-800-NYQUITS for information about how to quit.
- Limit alcohol.Before drinking alcohol, it is important to speak to your health care provider about possible interactions with your medication or your medical condition. Too much alcohol can be bad for your bones and your overall health.
- Take action to prevent falls.Most broken bones occur as a result of a fall that could have been prevented. Some actions to prevent falls at home include using nightlights, removing or securing scatter rugs, and getting rid of clutter.
- Getting a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test when indicated. Speak to your health care provider about when you should get a BMD test.