WOMEN’S HEALTH: Preventing Osteoporosis

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The primary cause of fractures and hospitalizations in the elderly is preventable. Maintaining women’s health requires a basic knowledge of nutrition.

Ann is in her sixties, well past ‘change of life.’ She reads about women’s health issues and is worried about her bones. She feels good, but she knows osteoporosis can sneak up on you.

Turning to the Internet, she learns that osteoporosis means ‘porous bones,’ and that this affects one out of every four women over 50. Osteoporosis is sometimes called a ‘silent disease’ because people are unaware that they have the condition until they take a simple wrong step and suffer a fracture. Almost 1½ million fractures occur in the elderly each year due to osteoporosis.

Concerned about the potential for side effects from drugs, Ann goes to her chiropractor. He explains that although the bones of the skeleton are supportive, they’re not inert structures like scaffolding.

Bones are firm, living tissues that are continuously being broken down and simultaneously being rebuilt. As we grow, we add more calcium matrix (a combination of minerals) than we lose, so we gain in size and height. Children can absorb up to 75% of the calcium they ingest, but the absorption rate slows as people mature. Teenagers can absorb 40-50% of the calcium they eat, while the over-fifty crowd only absorbs 5-15%.

Ann’s chiropractor tells her that most American women consume only half the calcium they need, but there are effective means of strengthening bones without drugs, even at her age. Consuming green vegetables and dairy products is good to get dietary calcium, but after menopause she needs to supplement with forms of calcium that are more readily absorbed. Some research papers have shown that proper calcium supplementation is better than drinking milk to provide necessary calcium. He recommends ‘chelated’ calcium/magnesium as an efficient form of calcium, since at her age, low stomach acidity makes absorption a problem.

Certain foods, like soda and too much red meat, tend to de-mineralize bones, and should be avoided. An Italian study revealed that a women’s rate of bone loss is also correlated to her folic acid levels. Those who are deficient in folate have more osteoporosis. Vitamin D improves the availability of calcium into the bones. Staying healthy requires a variety of nutrients.

A year later, Ann is walking every day, consuming more yogurt and broccoli, and never misses taking her vitamins and calcium supplements. Now, her bones are stronger than they’ve been in years. She prefers using effective natural remedies whenever she can and realizes that a woman’s health is her own responsibility.

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