Actions for Strong Bones for Premenopausal Women
How can I protect my bones in the premenopausal 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. Absent or irregular menstrual periods may mean you have hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance interrupts bone building, can speed up bone loss and may increase the risk of osteoporosis. It is important to discuss your menstrual history with your healthcare provider. The cause of irregular menstrual periods can usually be diagnosed and treated.
It is important for all premenopausal women including those with a strong genetic tendency (family history) for osteoporosis to take bone healthy actions. Choosing to take the steps for stronger bones will help you reach your highest peak bone mass and optimize your bone health in post menopausal age.
Here is a start:
- Eat a variety of healthy (nutrient-rich) foods. Make half of your plate vegetables and fruit, add lean protein, include whole grains, select heart-healthy fats, and remember to include a calcium-rich food or drink at each meal. For more information about healthy food choices, go to www.choosemyplate.gov
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Eat the amount of calories and protein you need. The amount that you need will depend on your height, weight, activity level, and age. It is important to avoid excessive dieting and excessive thinness.
- Get the calcium you need. It is recommended that adults consume 1000 to 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. It is best to get calcium from the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium such as low fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark green leafy vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens), canned fish (sardines, salmon) eaten with bones, or calcium-fortified (with calcium added) foods. The body uses calcium best when it is spaced through the day. Try to eat a calcium rich food at each meal or snack. If you think that you are not getting the recommended amount of calcium in the foods you eat, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to find out if a calcium supplement is right for you. Calcium supplements should not be taken without the advice of your healthcare provider. Too much calcium taken on a routine basis, particularly from supplements, may be harmful.
- Get the recommended amount of vitamin D. There are only a few good natural sources of vitamin D including fatty fish such as catfish, eel, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna and shiitake mushrooms. Small amounts of vitamin D are added to all cow’s milk, some types of beverages (almond, coconut, rice, or soy beverages and orange juice), yogurt, cheese, 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 standing. Resistance exercises such as lifting weights or using exercise bands strengthens your bones and your muscles too! Tai Chi is an example of physical activity that improves posture and balance to help decrease the risk for falls and fractures. Exercise can be easy; try 10 minutes at a time, adding the minutes up to reach your goal. It is important to stretch properly and avoid excessive exercise.
- 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.
- Speak to your healthcare provider about your bone health and your menstrual history.
Are there medications to treat osteoporosis in the premenopausal years?
At this time, the use of osteoporosis medications for premenopausal women is rare and limited to individuals diagnosed with steroid-induced-osteoporosis.