Many women neglect their own health while caring for others. When diseases do not show symptoms in the early stages, opportunities for prevention and early detection can be missed.
One such disease, osteoporosis, does not receive as much attention as other women’s health problems.
Osteoporosis is classified as a silent disease because it often develops without symptoms or pain. The first sign of trouble may be a broken bone.
Osteoporosis is more common than people think:
About one in two women over age 50 will experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.
Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
A woman’s risk of fracturing a hip is equal to the combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
Myths about osteoporosis:
Myth 1: Osteoporosis is an inevitable part of aging in women.
While the risk of osteoporosis increases with age, it is not inevitable. By taking preventive measures as early as possible, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering bone fractures.
Myth 2: Bones only break in falls or accidents.
Myth 3: I don’t need to take care of my bone health until I’m middle-aged or older.
Myth 4: If I develop osteoporosis, I can feel my bones getting weaker.
What can I do to avoid problems with osteoporosis?
Eat a healthy, balanced diet and make sure your calcium and vitamin D intake is adequate.
Lead an active lifestyle, including muscle-strengthening exercises and weight-bearing exercise, to help build strong bones and slow bone loss.
How much calcium do I need?
The recommended daily dose for women under age 50 is 1000 mcg of calcium. For those over 50, this increases to 1200 mcg.
What foods contain calcium?
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, fish, and soy products such as tofu. Some foods may also be fortified with calcium, such as cereal.
How can I tell if I am getting enough calcium?
The International Osteoporosis Foundation offers a calcium calculator on its website that you can use to estimate the amount of calcium in your diet.
Why do I need vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps improve the absorption of calcium and maintain bone health. There are a small number of foods, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and egg yolks, that contain vitamin D. It can also be obtained through harmless exposure of the skin to sunlight.
Should I take nutritional supplements?
In general, it is better to take vitamins and minerals through food. However, if you have difficulty eating enough calcium-containing foods or getting enough vitamin D from food or sunlight, you should ask your doctor about supplements. For pregnant or nursing mothers, it is important to take the recommended supplements.
How can I find out more about my risk of osteoporosis?
An orthopedic specialist can discuss factors such as age, medical history, diet, hormone levels and lifestyle. For post-menopausal women or younger women with risk factors for osteoporosis, a bone scintigraphy may be recommended, which uses low-level X-rays to measure the density of minerals in the bones.