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Sue Ann Says: Prevent Osteoporosis By Building Strong Bones

You have seen it happen to your friends or family members before. One misplaced step on the ice or a trip over the coffee table and you have a broken bone. Fractures can occur in a woman at any age, but as we grow older our bones become more brittle.Your chance of having osteoporosis is four times higher than a man. Building good bone health practices into your daily routine will decrease your chances of osteoporosis. As I look at my healthy goals for 2015, bone health is near the top of my list. Are you at risk of poor bone health? Let’s dig into current information on osteoporosis and include preventative bone health into your lifestyle.

What is osteoporosis and am I at risk?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that makes bones fragile and weak. As we age some of our bone cells begin to dissolve bone matrix (resorption), while new bone cells deposit osteoid (formation). This process is known as remodeling. For people with osteoporosis, bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. (

Osteoporosis is a disease of time, which means that the density of bones decrease over years and because there are no obvious symptoms many women don’t even realize that they have it. As a woman goes through menopause, her hormones will begin to fluctuate, causing her bone density to change. Fractures of the hip, spine and wrist occur more often in women who have osteoporosis.

A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime, equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer and 4 times higher than that from endometrial cancer. (International Osteoporosis Foundation) Hip fractures can be devastating to women, as hip fractures are linked with an increased risk of death. Osteoporosis can lead to a loss in height in women. Back and neck pain due to spinal problems and stooping over are other common problems associated with osteoporosis. Due to the fact that women over 45 are more prone to osteoporosis than men, they have a 2X higher rate of falling and breaking a humerus bone.

Even though osteoporosis can affect any adult, it is more common in Caucasian, Mexican American and Asian women than in African American women. If you have a family member who had osteoporosis, your chances of having it will increase.

The graph pinpoints the fact that as women reach menopause age (40-50), her bone mass decreases faster than men. (

Strong Bones, Strong Woman

Choose from these 8 options to keep your bones healthy and strong!

1. Eat a diet rich in calcium by nibbling on almonds, broccoli, and kale. Drink your milk, snack on cheese, or partake in a dish of yogurt. Pour yourself a glass of calcium fortified orange juice or add shrimp to your salad.

2. Eating fruits and vegetables can aid in building strong bones.

3. Don’t forget your vitamin D! Women under 70 need 600 IUs (international units) a day and women over the age of 70 should have 800 IUs a day. Foods that increase your vitamin D are tuna, salmon, egg with the yolk, and yogurt. Sun exposure for up to 15 minutes a day can increase vitamin D.

4. Climb those stairs, walk, jog, sneak in a game of golf or tennis to slow bone loss. Find a yoga or Tai Chi class in your area and join with a close friend. Yoga and Tai Chi will help with your balance thereby reducing falls. Reduce the number of hours you are sitting by enjoying sports, gardening, and household chores, as these activities will help reduce hip fractures.

5. Quit smoking! The longer you smoke, the lower your bone density and the greater the risk of fractures.

6. Don’t indulge in over two alcoholic drinks a day. Excessive drinking inhibits bone growing cells.

7. Practice safe weight bearing exercises. Use weights or resistance bands to strengthen muscles and bones. Two times a week will fuel your bone growth.

8. Install night lights in your home to make moving in a dark bedroom or hall easier. Remove the clutter in all of your rooms to prevent falls. Wear socks or slippers with grips on the bottoms if your floors are slippery.
See Your Health Professional for Advice
Next office visit to your doctor, ask if you are at risk of osteoporosis. If the doctor believes you may be at risk a bone density test may be ordered. This test measures how dense (strong) your bones are and whether you have osteoporosis. If your doctor feels you are at risk of osteoporosis after the bone density test, medication can be ordered to help keep your bones strong. Medications in the bisphosphonates family have been shown to increase bone density.
Take time now to begin healthy habits that will lead to strong bones in 2015.

Because it all begins with a healthy woman…

Sue Ann Thompson is founder and president of the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF), a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential. WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit or call 1-800-448-5148.

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