As if being a woman wasn’t complicated enough, of the estimated 10 million Americans who have osteoporosis, 80% are female. To top it off, 1 in 2 women over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in their lives.
That all might sound scary, but there are things you can do. But first things first:
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is when your bones get weaker. There are a number of risk factors, such as ethnicity, family history, and medical history. But for many people, osteoporosis is something that comes with age.
As you get older, your bones lose mass and become brittle, causing them to break more easily.
This change isn’t instant and happens over a long period of time. But, because it is gradual and painless, many women don’t know they have it. In fact, a lot of people don’t find out they have osteoporosis until they break a bone!
Why Do So Many Women Have It?
Women have smaller bones and lose bone mass faster than men because of the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy and after menopause.
A big part of the problem is that one out of three women in the United States aren’t getting the ideal amount of calcium in their diets. That includes teens and young adults.
Here’s a little known fact: women achieve peak bone mass around the age of 30. The greater your bone mass, the longer you can delay bone loss as you age. But most people simply aren’t taking advantage of that critical time period.
What Can I Do?
You need to be absolutely sure that you’re getting enough calcium from your diet.
Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are easy ways to meet your daily amount. But if you’re trying to stay away from dairy, there are other ways you can get calcium. Kale, chia seeds and salmon are all great ways to get more calcium every day.
It’s also super important that you’re getting enough vitamin D. Not only does it support bone health, it helps your body absorb more calcium.
Experts recommend you get at least 15 mcg of vitamin D daily, but this also proves to be a struggle for adults, who many of whom barely consume half that amount every day.
Aside from boosting your diet with calcium and vitamin D rich foods, which include dairy, beef, egg yolks and tuna, the right supplement could help.
The Big Takeaway
Although osteoporosis is serious, you have the power to do something about it. Simply getting enough calcium and vitamin D throughout your life may reduce your risk, keeping you—and your bones—going strong.