Menopausal women need calcium for good bone health. Without enough of it, they face increased risk of fractures as well as a degenerative bone disease called osteoporosis.
Calcium is a mineral that is important to a woman’s overall health. Besides its role in keeping the bones and teeth healthy, it is also critical for the muscles, blood vessels and nervous system. It even plays a role in hormone secretion. Combined with the effects of aging and estrogen loss, consuming too little calcium can have a devastating effect on the bones. Fortunately, calcium is found in a long list of foods and supplements, making caring for your bone health easy.
Calcium is important for good overall bone health before, during and after menopause. A woman’s bones are at their strongest when she’s in her 30s. Over time, gradual bone loss occurs. Though this is a natural part of aging, it is an effect that can be worsened by dropping levels of estrogen. Bone loss can, in turn, cause low bone density, a primary risk factor for osteoporosis. Getting enough calcium can slow bone loss and prevent more serious problems.
To help ensure good bone health during and after menopause, women need at least 1200 mg of calcium daily. There are many foods women can consume to get significant amounts of calcium. They should aim to eat at least a few servings of calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, spinach, salmon and broccoli, each day. Keep in mind, however, that most women do not get enough calcium from food alone. Taking a supplement can help to ensure that they get the calcium they need.
Osteoporosis is a condition marked by the progressive weakening of the bones. Women are more prone to developing this condition than men, particularly during and after menopause. If a woman has osteoporosis, she may experience back pain and develop a stooped or hunched-over posture. She may even lose some of her height over time.
Perhaps most alarming about osteoporosis is the fact that it puts a woman more at risk of bone fractures. If a woman with osteoporosis falls or suffers another type of accident, she is more likely to break a bone. In fact, a strong sneeze, cough or wrenching movement may cause a fracture in severe cases.
The best time to consume calcium for the prevention of osteoporosis is long before menopause. For optimum bone health, females from 19 to 50 years old need about 1000 mg each day. It’s not too late to take calcium once menopause has begun, however. If you’re menopausal and hoping to prevent or help treat osteoporosis, include at least 1200 mg in your daily diet. Some doctors recommend 1500 mg of daily calcium for menopausal women who are not taking estrogen.
Menopausal women often gain unwanted pounds and have great difficulty shedding them. Calcium intake may play a role in avoiding unwanted weight gain and making menopausal weight loss easier. Some research shows that low calcium levels coincide with increased amounts of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D. Since the body is used to high amounts of both when food is scarce, it may go into starvation mode and store more fat when a woman isn’t getting enough calcium.
You can count on calcium to help you age gracefully. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods each day to keep your bones in good shape. You may even enjoy weight loss as an added benefit.