TAKE CARE OF YOUR BONE HEALTH OVER 50
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Be aware of your bone health as you age

Everyone needs to be aware of their bone health as they age.  Did you know that osteoporosis is a chronic health condition that affects 200 million women around the world?  In fact, one in ten women aged 60 have osteoporosis and the risk only increases as you age.1

But osteoporosis does not exclusively affect the elderly and can begin at any age. It is known as the “silent disease”, as for many, a broken bone is often the first symptom. This is why it is so important for everyone to be aware of their bone health, and the diet, exercise and lifestyle factors that help prevent bone loss. We can all have good bone health at every stage of life.

Women are at higher risk at the start of menopause

As women reach menopause, changes in hormone levels cause bones to lose minerals and this leads to reduced bone strength and structure.  In fact, women can lose as much as 20% of their bone mass in the first 5–7 years after menopause.2 Early menopause (before age 45) and any prolonged periods when hormone levels are low can also cause loss of bone mass.  Any loss of bone mass puts bones at risk and increases the risk of minimal trauma fracture, which is a fracture from a standing height or less.  Fractures are not a normal part of getting older, so it is important to investigate the health of your bones and take steps to protect them.

Take time to know your bone health

A good place to start learning about your bone health and your risk of osteoporosis is the International Osteoporosis Foundation Osteoporosis Risk Check (riskcheck.osteoporosis.foundation/).

This is an online tool that allows you to learn about your bone health and helps to identify any risk factors you might have. Answer the questions on your bone health and lifestyle and obtain your report showing your results and risk factors. You can take the report to your doctor and discuss an action plan to prevent broken bones.

4 strategies for maintaining healthy bones

Make some (or even better all) of these strategies part of your OVER 50 bone health plan!2-4

STRATEGY TIPS FOR HEALTHY BONES
1. Exercise regularly
  • Regular and varied exercise promotes correct posture, enhances core stability and raises overall fitness – together this prevents falls and lowers your fracture risk. 

  • Try to do 30–40 minutes of weight-bearing exercise three to four times a week.

2. Eat a healthy diet
  • Calcium is vital for creating and maintaining strong bones. Aim to consume 3–5 servings of calcium every day from dairy products, vegetables, fish and other calcium-rich foods.

  • Vitamin D is essential as it helps your bones absorb calcium, and also helps regulate calcium levels in your blood. Your body makes vitamin through exposure to sunlight and via dietary intake.

3. Maintain a healthy weight
  • A lower body mass index (BMI) less than 19 kg/mg2 can lead to lower oestrogen levels in women, which my contribute to the development of osteoporosis. A healthy diet can help to maintain a normal body weight and provide your body with nutrients to support your bones.

4. Make smarter choices
  • Lowering alcohol intake and avoiding or reducing smoking are both sensible steps to take when looking at how to improve your lifestyle. Drinking heavily can increase your risk of both falls and fractures, and it can also lead to bone loss.

  • Smoking is proven to reduce bone mineral density and can make it difficult for your bones to absorb calcium. If you are a smoker, quitting can be difficult. Your doctor will be able to support you in cutting down smoking or quitting completely.

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References

1 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Facts and statistics. osteoporosis.foundation/facts-statistics.

2 National Osteoporosis Foundation. Healthy bones for life: Patient’s guide. 2014. nof.org.

3 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis.Risk.Check. riskcheck.osteoporosis.foundation.

4 International Osteoporosis Foundation. Love your bones: Protect your future. 2016. osteoporosis.foundation/educational-hub/material/brochures.