As women age, they face an increasing risk that their bones will weaken. And as your bones get weaker and brittle, they are more susceptible to breaks (fractures).
Broken bones present more than just a painful inconvenience. They can interfere with your ability to live a full, independent life.
Fortunately, you can start taking steps today to maintain your bone health. Here, the care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati share five ways you can optimize your bone health and reduce your risk of bone conditions such as osteopenia (reduced bone mass) and osteoporosis (weakened bones).
Step #1: Exercise
Two kinds of exercise help your bones most: weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, running, climbing stairs, hiking, and other activities in which you work against the force of gravity and resistance exercises such as weightlifting.
These exercises actually help build up your bones, just as they build up your muscles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, most days of the week.
Step #2: Eat a healthy diet
Bones benefit from a wide variety of nutrients, but two of the most important nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D. To protect your bones, be sure to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods.
Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy foods, dark leafy greens, and foods and beverages fortified with calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and vitamin D-fortified dairy foods.
Keep in mind that you should also get ample amounts of nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K for bone health. The best way to get all the nutrients you need is through a diet that contains fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
And remember, you shouldn’t rely just on supplements for bone-building nutrients. If your care provider recommends supplements, take them in addition to eating a healthy diet.
Step #3: Don’t smoke
Smoking harms your bones in several ways: It reduces blood flow to your bones, it inhibits your body’s ability to absorb calcium from foods, and it reduces the density of bones. If you need help quitting, talk with your care provider, or go to SmokeFree.gov.
Step #4: Drink alcohol in moderation
Having two or more drinks a day increases your risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Step #5: Take medications if your doctor prescribes them
Bone density scans known as DEXA scans can check on the condition of your bones. These scans are recommended for women over age 65 and for younger women with certain risk factors for weak bones. If you have questions about having a bone density scan, ask your provider.
When a bone density scan uncovers osteopenia or osteoporosis, your care provider may prescribe a medication that helps treat weak bones. If your provider recommends bone medication, be sure to take it exactly as prescribed.
Some bone medication can cause side effects. If you experience any kind of side effects, talk with your provider, who can give you advice on managing the side effects.
Watching out for your bone health
To schedule an appointment for bone health evaluation or any other women’s health care, call our office at 513-794-1500, or request an appointment via our online portal today.