You can help prevent osteoporosis by taking Hormone Replacement Therapy, however there may be some women who do not want to take it for many reasons. They may be in a high risk category for Breast Cancer or they may be at risk of Thrombosis. Or they may just not like taking drugs.Calcium is vitally important in the health of the bones and extra calcium after the menopause may help to reduce the loss of bone that occurs. It is as important to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D as this is used by the body as a bone strengthener and allows the body to absorb calcium effectively. Vitamin D is usually made naturally by the body when it is exposed to sunlight and it can also be found in fish, egg yolks and cereals. However those that find it difficult to get out in to the sun may find that taking supplements helps A study in France has suggested that supplements of 800 units of Vitamin D3 and 1,200mg of Calcium had the effect of reducing fractures by 25%.
You need to be taking at least 1,000mg of calcium per day, although a joint study; by the office of Population and Census, MAFF and the Department of Health in the UK; in 1990 showed that the average daily intakes for women had fallen to 730mg. There are many foods that are very rich in calcium although those that are none dairy are less easily absorbed than the calcium that you get from milk, fish (canned such as sardines and pilchard), hard cheeses (such as cheddar) and yoghurt. If you are a vegan you should be able to supplement your diet effectively with regular brazil nuts, almonds, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, fortified soya milk, cereals and bread, although these may be less easily absorbed.
There are also a number of treatments for osteoporosis if you develop the disease. You will need to discuss these with your GP they are only available under medical supervision. They include Calcitonin supplementation, Biophosphonates and Anabolic Steriods.
Calcitonins are hormones that are naturally produced by the thyroid gland and work by stopping bone loss by blocking the actions of osteoclasts, the cells that break bone down. At present they are available for treatment with injection and nasal spray (the nasal spray has not yet been approved in the UK).
Biophosphonates inhibit bone loss by attaching themselves to the bone and preventing the osteoclasts from working effectively. They are available as tablets under the name “etidronate” and have been used to treat both Paget’s disease and spinal osteoporosis.
Anabolic Steroids have been used to build up muscle and bone mass, they are used only with caution as they can cause women to become more masculine with long term use (over three years) and can also increase the risk of heart disease and extreme fluid retention.
For more information go to the following resources:
Other Dietary Supplements
Supplements that are particularly useful for women going through the menopause can help protect against some of the dangers of oestrogen deficiency and help to relieve some of the more unpleasant symptoms. They include nutritional therapies, vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals and amino acids.
For osteoporosis have a look for the special formulations for bones that contain calcium and vitamin D together with other minerals. A good multivitamin supplement can also help to maintain healthy levels of all body nutrients to ensure that everything works as it should. Vitamin B6 has been recommended for women that had pre-menstrual syndrome and is also useful for women going through the menopause, remember that the two conditions are caused by the same hormone, oestrogen. Essential fatty acids can be obtained from star flower and evening primrose oil supplements.
The New Natural Alternatives to HRT – £16.99 from The Hysterectomy Association. is essential reading for everyone going through the menopause who prefers not to use hormone replacement therapy.
- Have a look at the Alternatives to HRT forum – full of excellent ideas and suggestions
- Check out the latest research into alternatives to HRT
- You might find the research into osteoporosis useful as well