Menopause is often a difficult time for many women. Hot flashes, loss of libido, and mood swings caused by hormonal fluctuations can all be troubling parts of the “change of life.” After menopause, osteoporosis is a concern. Osteoporosis describes the reduction in bone density that can cause bones to weaken. As a result, the risk of fractures increases. What is especially frightening is that the condition often produces no noticeable symptoms—for many women the first clue that they have osteoporosis is a potentially life altering fracture of the ribs, hips, or vertebrae. When it comes to osteoporosis, prevention is key. There are several steps women can take to delay or even prevent its onset.
Inflammation, aches, and pain upon movement occur in joints when cartilage is damaged and there is friction when bones rub together. Severe losses of mobility due to joint problems are often associated with individuals in their seventies, but damage starts to occur well before that. Many people in their twenties and thirties will start to experience joint problems. By the time most people hit 40, they have already sustained some damage to the joints that are classified as weight bearing. These include the joints found in the ankles, spine, hips, and knees. This damage often doesn’t produce symptoms until later in life, so many people may not be aware that it is occurring. By the time severe symptoms do manifest, even simple activities like bending over in the garden or taking a walk in the park can be excruciating or even impossible.
Supplementation is a vital part of a comprehensive osteoporosis-prevention plan. This wasn’t always the view held by the medical community, however. Until relatively recently, doctors tended to focus on lifestyle changes alone. Now, most medical professionals recognize the value of a supplement designed to promote bone health. In fact, approximately 79 percent of medical professionals now favor the use of these types of supplements according to a Council for Responsible Nutrition study.
The substance most people think of with respect to bone health is calcium. This mineral is essential in fighting bone loss and weakening as we grow older. It has been extensively studied and is a major ingredient in a wide array of bone supplements. Taking calcium regularly can not only help preserve bone mass, but can also help guard against bone fractures. However, it is only part of the picture. Doctor Stephen Holt, who wrote The Antiporosis Plan, states: “There has been far too much emphasis on viewing calcium as the only nutritional intervention of significance to prevent osteoporosis. Modern science shows us that calcium alone is not the answer to osteoporosis prevention or management. Again, it must be noted that there are many bone-boosting nutritional substances, including selected vitamins, minerals, and botanical agents that have been shown to improve the density of bones, in some cases preventing or even reversing thin bones.” So, what are these other “bone-boosting nutritional substances”? Additional minerals, vitamins, and extracts that can play a role in bone health include:
- Vitamin D – Also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, it can help the body make better use of bone supplement ingredients by aiding with absorption and retention. Many supplements that contain calcium also include vitamin D.
- Phosphorus – This substance is already found in the bones, and helps make them strong. When taken in supplement form it can help increase bone density and boost strength as a result. To be effective, phosphorus must be present in supplements in adequate amounts.
- Ipriflavone – This ingredient is thought to work by mimicking the effects of estrogen in the body. It is therefore considered a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy, which has a number of risks. Benefits of this substance include the creation of bone cells known as osteoblasts that can make bones denser and stronger, as well as its ability to inhibit the production of cells that can weaken bones.
- Vitamin K – Although this vitamin does not get the same amount of attention as other substances, it can be beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis. Users should take vitamin K in conjunction with calcium to get the maximum benefit.
- Zinc – After menopause, many women are deficient in zinc. This mineral can assist in slowing the bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis, and should be taken along with other elements, including copper.
- Magnesium – Like phosphorus, magnesium is a vital component of healthy bones, and taking it can help post-menopausal women retain bone density.
- Finding a supplement that contains adequate amounts of magnesium, calcium, and other vital substances is an important step in your quest to take better care of your bones. Those hoping to maintain strong bones, however, should ideally take a holistic approach. Looking for a bone health supplement that contains the following ingredients and taking it on a regular basis can help keep bones strong.
It’s never too soon to start taking steps to avoid bone loss. Building bone mass early in life through exercise, a healthy diet, and supplementation can help delay many of the issues associated with osteoporosis. When you choose supplements with the ingredients listed above, they will be capable of reducing the level of bone loss, helping you build bone density, and assisting in the maintenance of healthy bones. Remember, a little effort now can help you avoid dealing with a fracture and the painful recovery and reduced mobility that often go along with a broken hip or rib. A solid preventative program will promote bone health and overall health, which can help you live an active and full life well into your later years.
Additional benefit can be derived from making lifestyle changes. Some practices that should also be part of a bone health plan include:
- Eating foods that are rich in calcium and getting an adequate daily intake of milk and dairy products.
- Limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine, both of which are known to reduce bone density over time.
- Incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your fitness routine to build and maintain bones. Weight lifting, jogging, and walking are all excellent ways to preserve bone mass, strengthen the skeleton, and maintain optimal bone structure.
Don’t start smoking, and try to quit if you already do. The toxins in cigarettes can rob your body of the substances it needs to keep your bones strong. Overall, smokers are at a higher risk of fractures than those who don’t smoke, and their bones are typically less dense.
**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficiency.