After the age of 40 years i.e.around menopause there is a rapid bone loss (about 20%) over the next 5 – 7 years. This condition is called osteoporosis. It is a disease which weakens bones and makes them brittle.There is a direct relationship of decreasing estrogen levels and development of osteoporosis. There is a high incidence of osteoporosis in India with nearly 30 million women suffering from it. After 40 years bone resorption (breakdown) overtakes the building of new bones. As a result, the bone density decreases and females become more prone to fractures. Once you have a broken bone due to osteoporosis you are at high risk of another one. But there are steps which can be taken to prevent osteoporosis. One can start taking these preventive measures in the third decade of life rather than waiting for osteoporosis to develop later on.
Stay active- It is recommended to do at least 20-30 minutes of daily moderate intensity activity. This not also helps in preventing bone resorption but also prevents diabetes and heart disease. One should avoid sitting for long periods in front of television and laptops. Weight bearing and resistance exercises are particularly important.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet- A number of nutrients are particularly important for building strong bones including calcium and vitamin D and therefore a balanced diet should contain an adequate amount of these nutrients. Exposure to the sunshine also helps in the formation of Vitamin D in our body and thus reduce the chances of Vitamin D deficiency.
Measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) can help in diagnosis at an early stage.
Avoid smoking and high alcohol intake: Smoking is linked to higher risk of osteoporosis and other proven health hazards. Alcohol in limited quantities is safe but in higher amounts, it is detrimental to the body.
Hormone replacement therapy and other supplements: It can help bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis but should be started after consultation by your gynecologist as in very elderly patients risks can outweigh the benefits of hormone replacement therapy.