Hormones and osteoporosis

Hormones and osteoporosis

Over and over again, women are warned to start supplementing calcium and take up weight lifting once they are in their 40s as otherwise we will end up with frail bones at old age.

Why does osteoporosis happen? Both estrogen and testosterone signal cells to build up bone-mass or, to be more precise, they prevent the breakdown of bone cells.
Women that no longer menstruate will only produce very little estrogen, which happens once they hit menopause. For some women, estrogen production stops sooner, due to surgical removeral of ovaries or when their bodies are overstressed from exercise or dieting.

Men are at risk too, once their testosterone levels decline, which mostly happens at a much older age. Bone loss can also result from the damaging effects of excess cortisol or corticosteroid medications such as prednisone and cortisone, used to treat inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Other hormone imbalances that may increase the risk of osteoporosis include an overactive thyroid gland (or being treated with excessive thyroid hormone replacement drugs) diabetes, and overproduction of prolactin.

While osteoporosis symptoms are few, the first sign is often a bone fracture in the hip, spine or wrist. Some people have spine fractures that lead to a curve in their upper back. One of the first symptoms of osteoporosis may be when you realize you are not as tall as you used to be or are plagued with back pain and stooped posture.

If you have lost almost 5 cm from your height as a young adult, you may wish to speak with your doctor about testing for osteoporosis. To prevent and treat osteoporosis, your body needs a daily dose of at least 1,200 mg of calcium. To drive calcium into the bones, you will also need supplemental vitamin D3 and K.

To make sure your body gets a stimulus to grow stronger bones, weight-bearing exercise (swimming is NOT weight bearing exercise!) is necessary.
Walk as much as possible, avoid elevators and carry your own groceries instead of using a cart and take up gardening. Taking up weight lifting would be an excellent idea too.

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