Tips for Strengthening Bones
By Jennifer B. Buckley

As women of the baby boom generation reach menopausal age, their risk of having weakened bones due to Osteoporosis goes up. Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease that decreases bone mass and affects over 10 million Americans. The disease strikes mostly older women and the two main contributing factors to the disease are estrogen deficiency and aging.  But it doesnít have to be accepted as part of the aging process anymore. New research shows the critical time of life for a woman to build a healthy skeleton is in her teens and 20ís. In addition, with proper treatment, hazardous bone deterioration caused by Osteoporosis can be slowed down or even reversed in some women.

Skeletons could be made stronger and the risk of bone fractures can be lowered, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, MD, by following these seven bone-preserving tips.

  1. Become informed about the growth cycle of bones. From childhood through before age 30, our bones build in mass. The process then begins to slow down around menopause and the rate of bone loss speeds up. So, it is best to build up your skeleton early in life.

  2. Build bone density with calcium. Most women in America donít get enough calcium in their diet. The recommended dietary allowance is 1,000 milligrams for women aged 19 to 50. Foods rich in calcium are most citrus fruits like oranges and dairy products like cheese.

  3. Get a little sun. By getting just a little sun, the skin produces vitamin D, which helps the body soak up calcium. Just remember that too much exposure to sunlight isnít good for the skin. For people living in a cold climate with little sunlight, they can eat foods such as liver and salmon that contain vitamin D.

  4. Exercise for stronger bones. Regular exercise like jogging or weight lifting, will dramatically improve bone mass. It is beneficial to push yourself beyond your normal exercise regimen because bones grow accustomed to the same level of activity but donít push too hard or a stress fracture can occur.

  5.  Donít be under a normal body weight. Certain studies indicate that thinner women have an increased chance of hip and other bone fractures. Also, thin women may have diets lower in dairy products, which contain calcium and insufficient amounts can lead to fragile bones.

  6. Get a heel measurement. Bone-scanning devices like the peripheral instantaneous X-ray imager, measure bone mass using low-dose radiation to measure bone density. According to David J. Satoris, MD, director of bone densitometry at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, women should receive a baseline scan as early as age 21 and all women over age 65 should be tested.

  7. Give your hormones a boost. Estrogen therapy has been widely used to treat osteoporosis after menopause. There is however, a link to cancer from estrogen use. Calcitonin therapy is another common option but it is either injected or inhaled which isnít appealing to some women, but itís effective.

Although there is nothing a woman can do to relive her 20ís and take measures to build stronger bones, most of the other options are achievable and can dramatically improve a womanís chance of avoiding bone fragility.

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