Menopause and Bone Loss

By: James Pendergraft

Menopause is one of the most challenging episodes in the life of a woman. The stage brings with it certain bodily changes such as the cessation of a female’s ability to conceive. Psychologically, menopause also poses quite a challenge for a woman as it will likely challenge preconceived views on her role that may cause great changes in mood and temperment as well as requiring greater effort to accept such changes as part of the natural process. Most women reach menopause when they are 50, although the average age for menopausal women is considerably earlier in most developing countries. There are plenty of challenges confronting a woman during her menopausal stage. However, none is perhaps greater or of more pressing concern than bone loss.

How Is Menopause Related to Bone Loss?

A woman who reaches menopause usually experiences osteopenia, running the risk of developing osteoporosis in time. Moreover, the onset of the decay of the bone leading to a weak structure causes body pain, predominantly in the back and joints.

To answer the question raised, bone loss comes about because of the body’s need to balance between blood production and bone creation. When still young, the body is able to produce blood as well as create bones. However, upon reaching the age of 30, the body begins to lose bones faster than it can replace them.

At the onset of menopause, bone loss dramatically becomes faster. Estrogen production stops after menopause. Once this happens, it means more bad news for the bones because the hormone is very vital in maintaining bone strength.

Are All Women at risk for Bone Loss?

Yes. All menopausal and post-menopausal women do experience bone loss. However, there are certain groups who stand out as having the greater incidence of the condition as well as showing a very rapid bone loss. These groups include the following:

* Those who are thin or have a small body frames. Body mass is directly proportional to body size: smaller women will experience bone loss in its most severe form.
* Those who are taking steroids. Steroids interfere with the body’s natural production of hormones. As such, when menopause comes, the body is further impeded with what little amount of hormone it can produce.
* Those who consume low levels of calcium and Vitamin D. These two nutrients are very vital in maintaining bone strength. As such, when the body does not get enough of them, bone loss during menopause is predictably more severe.
* Those with sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise also leads to atrophy of the bones. On the other hand, those who exercise regularly develop strong bones.

Are There Ways to Prevent or Minimize Bone Loss?

Taking in enough calcium by eating fresh fruits and vegetables allow the bone to become strong in their structure, making them withstand the decaying effects of menopause. A menopausal woman needs about 1,500 mg of calcium each day. On the other hand, calcium will not be maximized if taken without Vitamin D. Vitamin D is the nutrient that makes calcium absorption easier. The best sources for the vitamin are eggs, fish, and milk. Moreover, exercising regularly will keep the bones strong, thus preventing bone loss.

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