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Osteoporosis: Does Mom Always Know Best?

dairy product for calcium

On Mother's Day, here’s how mom can take care of everybody including her own.

Mother’s Day is one of my favorite ‘holidays.’ Okay, I know it’s not a real holiday, but I certainly take advantage of the efforts my husband and children make to create a delicious breakfast and a special day.

We each celebrate in our own way, however, ladies, while rejoicing, take a moment to give thanks to your body for carrying you around each day to shop, cook, work and do all that you manage to accomplish. And if we take a closer look at your schedule, I’ll bet the majority of the time, we take care of others and neglect to put ourselves on our endless to-do lists.

Getting Measured is the Simplest Way to Predict Osteoporosis

Many studies highlight how women give short shrift to their health, and that’s not all that’s getting short. Did you know that starting at about age 40, women typically lose about half an inch each decade? A shrinking stature could be a sign of osteoporosis and one simple measure you can take to highlight this ailment is not invasive and won’t cost you a penny: ask your doctor to measure your height. This easy step could save you a lifetime of problems and here’s why.

Osteoporosis, which literally means "porous bone", is a disease in which the strength and quality of bone are reduced, causing bones to become fragile and weak. Although you may not see this deterioration immediately, progressively over time you notice changes. Here are some scary statistics: By the age of 80, nearly half of all women show on an X-ray that they have had a fracture of their spine, and many cannot even recall any injury or incident that would have caused the fracture. For a number of reasons including pregnancy and hormonal changes (particularly after menopause), 80 percent of people with osteoporosis are women. Many women ignore the need to strengthen their bones, yet a woman’s risk of an osteoporosis-related hip fracture equals her risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers combined.

Though there is no cure for osteoporosis, the good news is that it is now a largely treatable condition and, with a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes and appropriate medical treatment, many fractures can be avoided. Prevention, however, is the best course of action, starting in childhood and continue throughout the lifespan.

7 Steps You Can Take to Reduce the Risks Associated with Osteoporosis

According to the North American Menopause Society, as published in the January/February issue of Menopause, all postmenopausal women were encouraged to take the following measures to reduce their risk of bone loss and osteoporotic fractures by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Obtaining adequate calcium (1,200 mg per day at age 50 and beyond) and vitamin D (800 to 1,000 IU vitamin D3 per day)
  • Participating in appropriate exercise
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Not smoking
  • Taking measures to prevent falls

While osteoporosis occurs most frequently in older persons, you need to start depositing in the bone bank while you’re young. I once counseled a 23-year old patient who had anorexia, an eating disorder in which her food intake was very restrictive. When she had a bone density test performed, her doctor described the results as follows to her: “You have the face of an 18-year old, and the bones of an 80-year old.” This young woman’s bones were as weak and brittle as her grandmother’s, even at her young age.

Check my next story to find out how your diet can protect your bones and keep you strong. Remember, you are a role model for your daughters.

Healthy and Happy Mother's Day