Good Bones: Women’s bones are a vital part of wellness

Bones not only support your body, they also protect vital organs and store calcium, a vital nutrient your body needs. Yet, bone health often takes a backseat to other, more obvious concerns.

“Often, bone health doesn’t become an issue until a major fracture occurs,” says Natalie Hill, APRN-BC, women’s health nurse practitioner at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health. “That’s why it’s important to be proactive.”

Protecting Your Bones

Osteoporosis happens when bones lose mass, causing them to become brittle and break more easily. The most common fractures occur in the spine, hips and wrists.

“Osteoporosis is a silent disease,” Natalie says, “and 1 out of 3 women will develop osteoporosis after age 50. Around the beginning of menopause, you start to lose bone mass faster than you rebuild it.”

The good news is that by taking steps to protect your bones, you can lower the risk of osteoporosis from developing.

Keep your bones healthy by:
Getting plenty of exercise.  Experts recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing activities, such as walking, running and aerobics, three to five days per week, along with strength training two to three days per week.
Not smoking. Studies have shown that smoking can accelerate loss of bone mass.
Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps keep bones strong and dense, and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. You can get calcium from dairy products as well as green, leafy vegetables. Cheese, fish, and fortified milk, juice and cereals are good sources of vitamin D.

Testing Bone Mass

Another important step to bone health is getting bone density scans. This simple test measures your bone mass and tells your provider whether you have bone loss or are at risk for developing osteoporosis. If you have already been diagnosed, the test shows how well treatment is working. Bone density scans are painless and take only about 10 minutes.

“We recommend screening for all women by age 65,” Natalie says. “However, if you have risk factors, such as a family history of osteoporosis or a history of fractures, we usually suggest starting around the age of menopause.”

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