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Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass — bones become thinner and less dense. Bone loss naturally begins around age 30.
Decreasing levels of estrogen after menopause can make bone loss worse. Women with thin bones are at increased risk of broken bones. In older women, hip fracture due to osteoporosis can be fatal.
Any woman can get osteoporosis. Women with the highest risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis shows no symptoms in the early stages. Ask your health care provider to do a bone density test during perimenopause if you have any of the risk factors listed above. Bone density testing is recommended following menopause.
It isn't likely that you can prevent bone loss completely, but you can lessen its effects. It is a great idea for women of all ages to build bone mass. Walking, running, and weightlifting are good exercises to build bone mass. You should also get enough calcium and vitamin D. Women younger than 50 should take at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 400–800 IU of vitamin D every day. Women 50 and older should take 1,200 mg of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D every day.
Women over 65 should boost their intake of calcium to 1,500 mg. No single dose of calcium should be more than 500 mg.
For bone-density information, testing, and physician referrals, check out The National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Q&A with Dr. Cullins