During menopause and perimenopause, women typically experience a hormonal imbalance that slows down the production of bone tissue. One of the main hormones responsible for keeping bones strong and healthy is estrogen, which is present in both men and women. With menopause, estrogen levels drop dramatically and the bones are no longer kept in check. Also, women start off with a lower bone density than men, mainly due to their differences in bone structure.
Because of this, women experience a slower production of bone tissue, which puts them at a higher risk of acquiring osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis refers to a general disease of the bones, and can affect any bone in the body. Although osteoporosis can affect any bone in the human body, it’s usually common around the hip, spine, and wrist. This happens when you have weak bones that are susceptible to breakages easily, which can cause severe pain and even disability.
The condition is so common among people that there are 8.9 million fractures reported annually as a result of osteoporosis.
How osteoporosis develops
Bones are made of living tissue, which means that these tissues wear off and are replaced by new tissues throughout your life. The outside of the bone is made up of cortical tissue, which is hard and brittle, to hold the weight of the body. The inside of the bone is made of trabecular tissue. The latter is spongy and provides nutrients to the outer layer of the bone.
With age, the production of new bone tissue slows down, and the new cortical tissue becomes slower to form. Normally, this wouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but various issues can make the bone lose its density faster.
Some of this factors include:
- Excessive alcohol
- Diet low in vitamin D and Calcium
- Inadequate exercise
The combination of these factors and the slowed production of bone tissue leads to a formation of holes in the cortical tissue. Gradually, these ‘holes’ increase in number and begin to affect the trabecular tissue, eventually weakening the structure of the bone.
Keeping osteoporosis in check
Ensure you get enough calcium in your diet every day
Calcium is an important component in the makeup of the bones, and can be acquired through certain foods and even calcium pills. The former is the easiest but you can always use pills to boost your calcium levels.
Vitamin D is probably something you shouldn’t ignore, especially since it’s in abundance. Your skin produces vitamin D from the sun, which simply means that you should get out of the house every once in a while.
Other nutrients, such as vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc, as well as protein are critical for bone formation. You should strive to include them in your diet.
There’s nothing you can do about the decrease in bone formation, but you should keep the bones you do have healthy through regular physical exercise.
- Osteoporosis refers to a general disease of the bones, and can affect any bone in the body.
- 8.9 million fractures are reported annually as a result of Osteoporosis.
- Women are affected five times more than men.