Both National Osteoporosis Month and Women’s Health Week take place in May – and it’s the perfect time for us to continue our important discussion about our bones, especially for postmenopausal women over age 50. I am partnering again with Amgen to provide encouragement for making our bone health a priority.
As the sun is finally shining and the weather is getting nicer in many parts of the country, there are more opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities – and remain socially distanced. This month I plan to stay active by working more in my yard and of course, not only improve the yard, but also focus on my bone health. Staying active and exercising helps to strengthen muscles and maintain bone density.1 I love tending to my garden – gardening is a great low-impact way that can help me maintain my bone strength.2
Let’s take this time to continue the important conversation on how we can work to maintain and improve our bone health every single day. I’ve previously shared my osteoporosis journey, as well as why exercise and nutrition are important in maintaining strong bones.1,3 You may read those stories here and here.
Even if I’m not engaging in formal exercise, I’ve been making an effort to move every day since it’s nice outside where I am! As I mentioned last October, my doctor recommended I get a bone density scan (DXA), a non-invasive and painless test that takes about 15 minutes, when I turned 60 for two main reasons: I was postmenopausal and had shrunk one-half inch. Further, bone health is something that has been on my mind, as my mother had osteoporosis.4 The DXA scan showed me to be in the early stages of bone loss.
That’s why I want to remind you of several factors that can put you at great risk for osteoporosis including:2,5
- Have a parent who had a hip fracture
- Low body weight
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Low calcium intake
- Excessive alcohol intake (>3 drinks/day)
- Age 65 or older
- And finally, women who are postmenopausal
Osteoporosis is far more common than many people realize.6 And unfortunately, many people do not know they have osteoporosis until they have broken a bone.7 I was surprised to learn that in my home state of Texas, there are more than 75,600 women who have experienced an osteoporosis-related fracture.8,9
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women need to know:
- Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women.10
- Approximately one in two women over age 50 in the US will break a bone because of osteoporosis.6
- A woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.10
- Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can result in bone loss. This is why the chances of women developing osteoporosis increases as we reach menopause.10
Many of the factors above apply to me: I had a parent with a hip fracture; at one time I was low in vitamin D and calcium intake; I am over 65; and postmenopausal. Early on I had great help from my personal physician and drastically increased my vitamin D intake. I also had help from a trainer to begin strength training with weights – as I’ve previously shared with you, formal exercise, including weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise, is an important aspect in maintaining overall bone health.1 Now, it is on me to keep up with my bone health plan.
I am learning to enjoy working in the yard…something Mr. B is excited to see. Yard work is the perfect activity to keep me moving, get strength training and cardio, and also a healthy dose of Vitamin D at the same time…just remember to wear your sunscreen, a hat and gloves. Engaging in regular physical activity can improve muscle mass, muscle strength, balance, and bone strength.2 I am excited about growing herbs, veggies, and flowers this spring! I still have much to learn, but at least I am working on it. Keeping our minds alert by studying new information is also important for our health.
For example, I want to learn more about growing vegetables rich in calcium and vitamin D.11 I discussed this in my most recent blog post, and you can find more information on my favorite good-for-your-bones foods here.
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, then think about joining me in taking a daily supplement.11 Before adding a vitamin D supplement, be sure to check if any of the other supplements, multivitamins, or medications you take contain vitamin D, and of course, check with your doctor.11
Again, this is all part of a conversation I have had with my doctor since turning sixty. I encourage the younger ladies to have this conversation sooner rather than later, especially if you’re over 50 or have broken a bone – it may keep potential problems away.4 As I mentioned earlier, osteoporosis is especially prevalent in postmenopausal women.10 In fact, after a fracture, postmenopausal women are five times more likely to break another bone within a year.12 I know several women, including my mother-in-law, who had fallen and broken a hip and were never able to be as active again.
Yes, May is full of benchmarks for women including the celebration of Mother’s Day. All of these commemorative dates are reminders to encourage the women we love to consider being proactive in their bone health and understanding osteoporosis. Let’s take this time to continue the important conversation on how we can work to maintain and improve our bone health every single day.
You can visit TAKE CHARGE OF OSTEO to learn more about osteoporosis. Especially for women 50 and older, it’s so important to have a discussion about bone health with your doctor. Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you with that talk. Then do what I did, listen to your doctor’s advice and make important changes in your life in order to manage your bone health.
Thanks for joining me in the yard today! I love celebrating May and the amazing women in my life, while sharing reminders that healthy bones are important for all of us.
KEEP SMILING, EVERYONE!
By Pamela Lutrell
Note: This post is part of a paid collaboration between with Amgen. The content reflects my own personal opinions.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis Exercise for Strong Bones. www.nof.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoMS, et al. Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis [published correction appears in Osteoporosis Int. 2015 Jul;26(7):2045-7]. Osteoporosis Int. 2014;25(10):2359-2381.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Nutrition. www.nof.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Bone Density Exam/Testing. www.nof.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- Camacho PM, Petak SM, Binkley N, et al. American Association Of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College Of Endocrinology Clinical Practice Guidelines For The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis-2020 Update. Endocr Pract. 2020;26(Suppl 1):1-46.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oce of the Surgeon General, 2004.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? https://nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- Amgen Osteoporosis-Related Fractures Heat Map. www.iboneacademy.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- Amgen Osteoporosis-Related Fractures Heat Map. Data on File. Created 7/14/2020.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. What Women Need to Know. www.nof.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Calcium/Vitamin D. www.nof.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- van Geel TA, van Helden S, Geusens PP, Winkens B, Dinant GJ. Clinical subsequent fractures cluster in time after wrist fractures. Ann Rheum Dis. 2009;68:99102.