Women’s health, particularly during perimenopause, the biological change from reproductive age to menopause, places a high priority on bone health. Women go through substantial hormonal changes at this time. The hormones progesterone and oestrogen begin to fluctuate and eventually fall in concentration. These hormones are essential for maintaining bone health during menopause, and when they are depleted, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis and lose bone density. Other factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle factors (such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle), and specific medical disorders or drugs can also have an impact on bone loss during perimenopause.
It is important for women to take precautions to protect their bone health during perimenopause and beyond.
The good news is that protecting your bone mass is easier than you think. Strong and healthy bones can be maintained with the right knowledge and care.
In this post, let’s look at some tips to improve bone health during this time.
Reducing the risk of poor bone health during perimenopause
1. Get enough calcium: Women over 50 should aim to consume about 1200 mg of calcium per day. Foods that are potentially high in calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods like orange juice.
2. Get enough vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Women over 50 should aim for 600-800 IU of vitamin D per day. Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods like milk.
3. Exercise: Regular weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, and weightlifting help to build and strengthen your bones.
4. Quit smoking: Studies have demonstrated that women who smoke are more prone to developing osteoporosis, compared with women who do not smoke.
5. Limit alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact bone density and increase the risk of falls.
6. Reduce caffeine intake: Too much caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption.
7. Eat a balanced diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help support bone health.
8. Get regular bone density screenings: Women over 50 should get regular bone mineral density (BMD) screenings every two years.
9. Consider hormone therapy: Hormone therapy can help maintain bone density in some women. Talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.
10. Manage stress: Chronic stress can interfere with bone health. Practicing stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation can help.
Foods to improve bone health during perimenopause
There are several foods that can help improve bone health in women during perimenopause:
1. Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all high in calcium, which is essential for building and maintaining strong bones.
2. Leafy greens: Greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens are high in calcium, as well as other nutrients such as vitamin K, which helps support bone health.
3. Oily fish: Fish such as salmon and sardines are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are important for bone health.
4. Fortified foods: Foods such as orange juice, cereals and bread are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, making them a convenient way to get these nutrients.
5. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds and chia seeds are all high in calcium and other nutrients that support bone health.
6. Beans and pulses: These plant sources of protein are also high in calcium and other nutrients such as magnesium, which is important for bone health.
7. Fruits and vegetables: Fruit and vegetables are important for overall health and can also provide nutrients such as vitamin C, which helps in the production of collagen, a protein that is important for bone health.
One of the best ways to protect your bones is to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. You can get calcium from dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fortified foods such as orange juice. You can get vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk and yoghurt, or from exposure to sunlight. In addition, reducing your risk of falling by using a cane or walking frame, if needed, can help prevent fractures.
Finally, it is strongly advised that you speak with your doctor about any issues relating to your bone health or your risk factors for osteoporosis. Your doctor can determine your bone density and, if any, the pace of bone loss via a bone density test. The doctor can determine after the examination whether you might need medication to assist slow the bone loss.