Bones play an important role in providing strength and support to the body and help us move, stand and lead our life with ease. They store necessary minerals and also house ‘bone marrow’ which helps in production of blood cells which play an important part in various functions of the body. Bones repair and remodel themselves our entire life; when we are young, the body rebuilds more tissues than it demolishes but as we grow older the process slows down. (Also read: Eating prunes may help protect older women against weak or brittle bones: Study)
In case of women bone loss speeds up post menopause and in some cases the loss is significant which could lead to a condition called osteoporosis which is more common in women than men.
Maintaining bone health should thus be the priority for all, especially women, to offset age-related bone loss. Following a healthy lifestyle with physical activity, nutritious food, avoiding smoking and drinking can make sure the bones remain healthy till long.
Dr. Sumit Kumar, Associate Consultant, Institute of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopedics, Medanta Gurugram told HT Digital the reasons of poor bone health in some women:
* Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, processed foods, sodas, coupled with lack of calcium and vitamin D can lead to the bones becoming brittle and weak.
* Lack of physical exercise and movement can lead to inflammation in the joints.
* Women also tend to suffer from a loss of bone mass, as they age, because their hormone (estrogen and progesterone) levels tend to vary. It is important to note that puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause affect bone strength. If the skeletal framework of the body is weak, the slightest fall or injury can lead to fractures, making mobility difficult.
Dr Kumar also suggests effective tips for women to maintain their bone health at all times:
Do physical activity: Exercises such as walking, jogging, and climbing the stairs, can help one build strong bones and slow the progression of bone loss. It is advisable to start following these activities in the early stage of life.
Intake of Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium in the body and plays several roles in improving bone health. Low vitamin D is an indication of lower bone density and increases risk of bone loss. The richest source of vitamin D is sunlight followed by a diet including fatty fish, eggs (yolks), cereals, dairy products, orange juice and soy milk.
Eat calcium-rich diet: A calcium-rich diet helps in building bone density. The diet should include dairy products, fish, almonds, broccoli, tofu, etc. which are important foods contributing to bone health. The reduction in the calcium levels gets directly reflected in the bones. Low calcium leads to osteoporosis, brittle bones, and sudden fractures.
Say no to alcohol: Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium which leads to low bone density. Cutting down on unhealthy habits is recommended for attaining healthy bones for a longer period
Cut down on salt intake: Increased salt intake may contribute to decreasing calcium levels and increasing bone loss. Women, especially after menopause should consume less processed and canned foods which usually have high salt content.
Avoid excess caffeine intake: Caffeine leads to calcium excretion from the body more quickly and must be consumed in moderation, i.e., two cups a day.
“While it is imporant to follow the above measures, screening is also imperative for ensuring bone health. Screening should start before the age of 30, and those with a family history of weak bones should undergo screening twice a year to avoid risk,” says Dr Kumar.