A menopausal women faces many changes to her health -- from annoying symptoms to risk of bone loss. Menopausal women need to make protecting their bones a high priority. Women are at higher risk for bone fractures than men and that risk increases with age. Adequate daily calcium will help protect your bones and your health.
The average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51 years old, although some women go through menopause in their 40s and some do not reach menopause until their late 50s. If your ovaries are removed surgically before natural menopause, you will become menopausal. When you are in menopause, your estrogen levels decrease, which can cause your bones to become weak.
Calcium is the mineral that makes bones strong. During your youth, your body stored calcium in your bones. After menopause, your bones release more calcium than they store. Adequate dietary calcium is essential in menopause to preserve the calcium currently in your bones. Women over 50 should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Milk and other dairy products are important sources of calcium. Eight ounces of low-fat yogurt provide over 400 milligrams of calcium. An 8-ounce glass of milk provides nearly 300 milligrams of calcium. Calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals are available as well. Milk products in the United States are typically fortified with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. If you have difficulty getting enough calcium through diet, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
While calcium is vital for bone health in menopause, be sure to take additional steps to protect your bones, which should include stopping smoking and participating in weight-bearing activities such as walking and hiking. You should also engage in strength-training exercises at least two days a week. Talk to your doctor about bone scans to monitor your bone health.
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