Bones, as we all know are made up of calcium and with age, adults start to lose the bone mass formed of calcium. In women though this loss is found to be greater than men and therefore women are more vulnerable to bone disease like the osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis?
When the bones start to become porous with loss of calcium, this reduces the bone mass. Slowly the bones become weaker, more fragile and may have constant pain. This form of degradation of the bones is called as osteoporosis.
Why women are more likely to develop osteoporosis?
It is because of the following factors,
- Women have less bone mass than men
- Women tend to live longer than men
- Women take less calcium and use it more during pregnancy, child birth and feeding.
- The rate of bone loss speeds up after menopause in women due to the fall of oestrogen levels
- Faster bone loss may also occur in those women who have their ovaries removed, as ovaries are the source of the hormone oestrogen
What are the symptoms?
The most dreaded thin about osteoporosis is that there are no early signs or symptoms to detect the disease. After the age of 35 most people start losing their bone mass and for some the loss is much greater than others. But it is only after 40 when most of the damage has been done that certain signs of osteoporosis might be seen like, frequent fractures, back pain, hunch, and shortening of height. All these factors occur when a lot of calcium from the bones has been lost.
Can it be diagnosed?
If you have frequent fractures and pain, you doctor may perform a bone scan, a specialised X-ray and also detect the density of your bones in you hip, spine and wrist as these are the places most affected.
Ultasounds and computer tomography scans are also sometimes used by doctors to detect the bone density.
But bone mass loss is a common enough problem in all women and despite symptoms or diagnosis, it is imperative that you add enough calcium to your diet at any age.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
At old age it is particularly difficult to get back the same bone mass that you had as a young person. But including a lot of calcium in your diet, through food, fluids and supplements is best way to tackle the problem of osteoporosis.
Apart from calcium your doctor may also ask you to increase the intake of vitamin D as it helps process the calcium in the body.
For a woman with normal health, before menopause the recommended calcium need is about 1,000 mg per day and after menopause it is about 1,500 mg per day.
Some sources of calcium are,
- Dairy products (do not forget to take the no-fat or low-fat varieties as the amount of calcium remains the same)
- Dried beans
If you are not getting enough calcium from your food, try and take a calcium supplement easily available in the market.
Important Note for all Women
If you do not want to spend your old age hobbling, limping, with a hunched back or crying in pain, try and take a decision right now to include as much calcium as possible in your diet whether you are 16 or 60.
A glass of milk a day, with lots of green vegetables like spinach, per day can have long lasting affects in maintaining you bone health. Also if you exercise frequently, your bones will remain stronger for long and the loss of bone mass will be slower.