I am in my 40's. What do I need to know about bone density?
Bone density is of concern to women as they reach mid-life
because women have a higher rate of osteoporosis and
subsequent fractures. Women are at greater risk because: we
loose bone mass after menopause, we start out with smaller
bones, and we live longer.
Throughout life, the bone re-models itself. That essentially means
that it re-develops and renews itself. This renewal is comprised of
two processes: the breakdown of the old bone and the creation of
the new. Mineralization (with calcium) is the final stage which
makes the new structure solidify into hard bone.
At about age 35, you have what is called Peak Bone Mass--your
bones are as dense and strong as they will be. Before that time,
the renewal phase was greater than the breakdown. Starting in the
later thirties and continuing into the forties and beyond, this ratio
reverses, so that about 1% of bone mass is lost each year.
The risk of fractures that ultimately come from bone loss and
osteoporosis are only significant for about 5% of women in their
forties. That is to say only 5% of women in their forties are below
what is called the "fracture threshold", not that 5% are actually
having fractures. The Fracture Threshold is the level of bone
density at which fractures become a serious risk.
While genetics and what you did in your earlier years are
prominent factors in determining your bone density, lifestyle today
still plays a major role. Here's some things you can do to minimize
A woman in her forties needs about 1000-1500mg of calcium a
day. The lower amounts are for pre-menopausal, non-pregnant
forties women. The higher amounts are needed in menopausal
Dairy foods are most women's main source of calcium. A cup of
milk or yogurt has about 300 mg. Despite the popular "milk
mustache" and "got milk" campaigns, milk should not be the sole
source or even the main source of calcium for many women. It has
a lot of fat and calories associated with the it. In the forties, it is not
always the best option, as this is a time when metabolism is
slowing down. In addition, women of all ages are lactose intolerant,
meaning they have trouble digesting milk. Sardines, spinach, and
green vegetables are also good sources of calcium that are low in
fat, and high in fiber. Supplements can always be considered.
Vitamin D is essential to calcium absorption. Good sources of
vitamin D are egg yolk, liver, and fish. It can be gotten through
supplements, taken alone or the ones that are frequently added to
milk and cereals. Sun exposure causes biochemical reactions in
the body that increase Vitamin D levels. It only takes fifteen
minutes at mid-day, so don't go out and bake and end up with skin
Weight-bearing exercise. Running or jogging, walking, aerobics,
and dancing are just a few types of activity that fall under this
umbrella. In the forties, be aware of your own limits and injury
history. Lastly, limiting alcohol, smoking and caffeine will also help
keep bones stronger, longer.
Copyright © 1999 GenneX
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