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Saying the word “menopause” immediately conjures up images of hot flashes, night sweats and bones becoming frail and prone to fracture.
However, while menopause isn’t always a walk in the park, everything post-menopause isn’t always bad news — a point made clear by research from the University of Eastern Finland.
In fact, according to those scientists, one of our biggest concerns when going through the change — loss of bone density — isn’t half as bad as previously thought…
25-year follow-up yields encouraging results
The researchers performed an impressive feat, following a total of 14,200 women between the ages of 47 to 56 for a whopping 25 years, who completed health surveys. An additional 3,000 women also went through bone density measurements at those five-year marks. All of this ensured that the research was hands-down the world’s longest follow-up of changes in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
And overall, they found that “The average decrease in bone mineral density was lower than has been assumed on the basis of earlier, shorter follow-ups where the bone loss rate at the femoral neck has been estimated to be even more than 20 percent.”
So what was the actual percentage by which bone mineral density goes down after menopause?
Well, the researchers say that their measurements show an average decrease of just 10 percent over a full 25 years — way different than that 20 percent plus we’ve all been told to expect.
What to do with this information
It’s certainly a relief to know that if you’re already post-menopausal, you’ve hopefully lost less bone density than you may have thought.
But the loss of bone density is still a fact of life. Women have smaller, thinner and less dense bones than men. Women also live longer than men and our lifespan may get even longer with advances in medicine and nutrition.
And if you don’t want to spend those extra years sitting on the sidelines due to frailty, it just makes sense to continue to do the things that not only help your bones — but your overall health — including:
#1 – Strength training
Research has linked weightlifting and strength training to bone health due to the ability of this type of exercise to promote new bone growth and help support the existing bone structure.
#2 – Eating more veggies
One study in postmenopausal women found that those who ate more than nine servings of veggies such as broccoli and cabbage had less bone turnover and reduced calcium loss than women who consumed fewer vegetables.
#3 – Getting adequate calcium in your diet
It’s no secret that calcium is vital to bone health. You can find the calcium you need for strong bones in foods like sardines, yogurt, cheese and kale.
However, while calcium is well-known, most of us forget to also increase another mineral that works with calcium for bone support — phosphorus. You should plan on approximately 700 mg per day of this mineral from foods like salmon, almonds, eggs and peanuts.
In fact, the combination of these two bone health powerhouses is as effective as exercise in maintaining dense, healthy bones.
#4 – Don’t forget vitamin K2
Be sure to get more vitamin K2 in your diet since this nutrient is necessary for binding minerals like calcium to your bones and ensuring that they aren’t sent to your arteries where they can cause stiffness and high blood pressure.
#5 – Vitamin D still matters
Of course, vitamin D is important to help your body absorb calcium, but that’s far from its only benefit. Vitamin D has important roles in cancer, immunity, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and respiratory health, obesity, diabetes, muscle function and aging.
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11 ways to increase bone density naturally — MedicalNewsToday