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Bone Health in Women

Why is bone health important for women?

While bone health is important for everyone, keeping your bones strong is especially important for women. That’s because women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. In fact, 80% of the people in the U.S. who have osteoporosis are women, and one in four women over age 65 has the condition.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, there are a few factors that increase women’s risk for bone loss:

  • Women’s bones are naturally smaller, thinner and less dense than men’s bones.
  • On average, women live longer than men. Therefore, since bone loss happens over time, women have a longer window of opportunity to lose bone density.
  • When women reach menopause, their estrogen levels decline. Estrogen helps protect against bone loss, so women lose more bone mass after they reach menopause.

Osteoporosis is dangerous because when your bones are fragile, they can easily break. You could break a bone with a light fall that ordinarily wouldn’t cause a problem, or even get a bone fracture when you’re coughing, sneezing or bending. You could also get a compression fracture in your spine because those bones are no longer strong enough to support your body weight.

One in three women over age 65 will likely have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Recovering from these fractures can require surgery and take a long time. In many cases, women may never get back the mobility and independence they had before a fracture caused by osteoporosis.

Preventing bone loss and osteoporosis

There are a few steps women can take to keep their bones as strong and healthy as possible:

  • Include weight-bearing physical activity in your routine. Good options include dancing, tennis, running and resistance training.
  • Make sure your diet includes plenty of calcium. Dairy foods, leafy green vegetables and enriched foods like cereal, bread and orange juice are good sources of calcium.
  • Get plenty of vitamin D. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Before you put on your sunscreen, 10-15 minutes of morning sunlight on your face, hands and arms two to three times a week is usually enough. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, tuna, salmon and enriched foods like cereal, milk and orange juice.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Be careful to avoid falls.

Get the facts about osteoporosis

Learn more about what you can do to lower your risk of osteoporosis, when and how you should be get a bone density scan and the many treatments that are available if you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Whether you’re working to keep your bones strong or need help managing osteoporosis, Banner Health is here to help with your bone health.