The importance of taking care of your bone health for women

Osteoporosis is a common condition that occurs when bones lose minerals more quickly than the body can replace them. This leads to a decrease in bone density and causes bones to become brittle and more prone to fracturing.1 Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, due to a rapid decline in oestrogen during menopause.2 All osteoporotic fractures need recovery time, with some requiring hospitalisation and significant rehabilitation.3 It’s therefore important for women to take care of their bones from a young age, in order to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing the pain, inconvenience and potential debility associated with a fracture in the future.

Along with having an increased risk, the silent nature of osteoporosis is another important reason why women should pay close attention to the health of their bones. From the age of approximately 35 and onwards, most people will begin to gradually lose bone density. If not treated or prevented, this loss of bone can progress without pain or symptoms into osteoporosis, with a fracture being the first obvious symptom.4

Fortunately, although women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, there are also several modifiable risk factors for the disease. These are things you can avoid in order to minimise your chances of developing the disease. They include leading a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol intake, use of tobacco products and the use of certain medications. Dietary factors such as low calcium intake, eating disorders and certain gastrointestinal surgeries can also predispose you to osteoporosis.5

In order to maintain strong healthy bones, women should take the following steps from a young age6:

  • Eat a varied diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Include plenty of calcium rich foods in their diet such as dairy, sardines with soft edible bones, spinach and almonds.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
  • Do weight bearing and strength training exercises regularly.
  • Obtain enough vitamin D from moderate sun exposure or a supplement.