Women may experience bone density loss after menopause, says experts

24 Oct 2023 11:08am
20 per cent of bone density can be lost after menopause - FILEPIX
20 per cent of bone density can be lost after menopause - FILEPIX

As we age, our bodies undergo numerous transformations, and one often overlooked aspect is the health of our bones. Bone health is a critical component of overall well-being, as our bones serve as the structural framework that supports our bodies and allows us to engage in various activities.

When it comes to bone health, a particularly vulnerable stage is post-menopause for women. Studies indicate that women can experience about 20 per cent loss of in bone density after menopause.

Columbia Asia Hospital Puchong Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Paisal Bin Hussin discusses the importance of bone health.

"Our bones are specialised structures that enable us to perform activities effectively. For them to function optimally, they must be strong and capable of absorbing reasonable impacts without affecting their normal functionality. Low bone density can jeopardise this balance," he said.

Dr Paisal added as individuals age, their bones naturally become weaker. This process becomes less efficient over time, and when women reach around the age of 50, especially during menopause, they often experience a significant loss of bone density.

“This decrease in bone density can lead to bones becoming less dense, which poses several risks. Several factors contribute to this decline in bone health, including dietary choices, physical activity levels, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Besides, he added that one of the most common issues arising from low bone density is the increased risk of fractures, particularly osteoporotic fractures.

“These fractures can occur in various parts of the body, but the hip and spine are especially vulnerable. With the global population ageing, the prevalence of such fractures is on the rise.

Commenting further, he said osteoporosis often develops without noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs.

“Patients typically seek medical attention only after experiencing a fracture. Some individuals may experience subtle signs, such as bone pain, back pain, height reduction, or changes in posture.

“However, these symptoms are often overlooked, making regular check-ups and bone density assessments essential for early detection.

It's never too early or too late to start taking care of your bone health.

"Even from infancy, it's important to ensure that bones develop properly. However, regardless of your age, you can take steps to support your bone health," he said.

Moreover, he added, bone health can be improved and maintained with nutrition as a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients is crucial for maintaining bone health.

“Foods like dairy products, green leafy vegetables, cheese, egg yolks, and fish are excellent sources of these nutrients. A healthy diet supports bone density and strength.

“Engaging in regular physical activity, including weight-bearing exercises and resistance training, is essential for preserving bone health. “Activities like walking, jogging, and strength training can help improve bone density,” he said.

He also added lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact bone health. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly reduce these risks.

Related Articles:

“Maintaining a good relationship with a healthcare professional is essential. Regular check-ups, bone scans, and bone density assessments can help diagnose any potential issues and allow for early intervention,” he said.

He also said genetics may also play a role in bone health as he stressed that good habits, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate these risks.

"Bone health is not something that should be left to chance. It's an integral part of overall well-being, and with the right approach, we can lower the risk of bone-related issues," he said.

Meanwhile, Fonterra Brands Malaysia's assistant nutrition manager Liew Yen Lee said it is crucial to understand the importance of calcium and how to incorporate it into your diet effectively.

“Calcium is a vital mineral for the human body, primarily known for its role in maintaining strong and healthy bones.

“It is not just about building strong bones during childhood; calcium continues to play a crucial role throughout our lives.

“Without an adequate intake of calcium, our bodies can start leaching calcium from our bones, weakening them over time. This can lead to conditions like osteoporosis, where bones become fragile and prone to fractures,” she said.

Besides, she added, to maintain optimal bone health, it's essential to include calcium-rich foods in your diet.

“While calcium supplements are available, it's always best to obtain your nutrients from natural food sources. Some of the best dietary sources of calcium include such as dairy products and leafy greens.

“Dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yoghourt are well-known for their calcium content. They are easily incorporated into your daily meals and snacks.

“Plant-Based Alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant or prefer plant-based options, there is calcium-fortified plant milk available.

“Additionally, tofu and tempeh are excellent sources of calcium for vegans and vegetarians. Vegetables like kale, spinach, and bok choy are packed with calcium. They can be used in salads, stir-fries, or as a side dish,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of incorporating a variety of calcium-rich foods into your diet.

"Diversifying your sources of calcium ensures that you receive other essential nutrients as well.

"Remember that calcium is not the only nutrient your bones need. Magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K also play significant roles in bone health,” she said.

She added that the recommended daily intake of calcium can vary depending on age and gender. On average, adults should aim for about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.

“However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to determine your specific needs.

“Hence, start taking care today whether you're in your 20s or 60s, it's never too late to prioritise your bone health.

“Including calcium-rich foods in your diet is a simple yet effective way to ensure your bones remain strong and healthy throughout your life.

"Your bones are your body's foundation, and the foundation needs to be strong.” she said.