The following information has been taken from Better Health Channel.
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Peak bone mass is reached around the age of 25 to 30 years, when the skeleton has stopped growing and bones are at their strongest and thickest. The female sex hormone oestrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone strength.
Oestrogen levels drop during menopause, at around the age of 50 years, resulting in increased bone loss. If a woman’s peak bone mass before menopause is less than ideal, any bone loss that occurs during menopause may result in osteoporosis.
Research suggests that about half of all women over the age of 60 years will experience at least one fracture due to osteoporosis.
Around the time of menopause, a woman can reduce her risk of developing osteoporosis by making a few lifestyle changes, including:
- Aim for 1,200 mg of calcium intake every day, which equals about three to four serves of dairy food.
- Do regular and appropriate physical activity, including resistance training exercise with weights (always do this type of exercise under supervision).
- Maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is made in the skin following sun exposure, and is found in very small amounts in some foods. Guidelines are available for the amount of sun exposure needed for the season and one’s geographical location. Vitamin D levels can be measured by a simple blood test.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake (current guidelines recommend a maximum of two standard drinks per day with two alcohol-free days per week for women).
- Stop smoking (smoking cigarettes is associated with a higher risk of developing osteoporosis).
- Avoid excessive caffeine intake
Exercising regularly throughout life can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Doing some type of physical activity on most days of the week for between 30 and 40 minutes is recommended.
Two types of physical activities that are most beneficial to bones are weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises. In addition to reducing bone loss, physical activity will improve muscle strength, balance and fitness, and also reduce the incidence of falls and fractures.