International Women’s Day
Protecting the strength of women everywhere through good nutrition!
What is International Women’s Day? It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere. While there are so many facets to this cause, our aim as Dietitians is to help nourish women so they can maintain their physical strength and mental clarity to continue to overcome challenges and keep achieving their goals!
Today, in honor of women everywhere, we are going to focus on one disease that primarily impacts the lives of women: Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to a point where they break easily, and it is most often found in the hip, spine, and wrist. These fractures can significantly decrease someone’s ability to move around, let alone cause a significant amount of pain and decrease their quality of life. It is often referred to as a silent disease because over time your bones may lose strength and density but you may not notice any changes until bones start to break.
Approximately 12.3 million individuals in the U.S. who are 50+ are expected to have osteoporosis. Seventy-one percent of osteoporortic fractures occur in women, and women have higher rates of osteoporosis than men at any given age. So we know that this disease disproportionately affects more women than me. I’ll spare you the biological details of why, but if you are curious, you can read about them here.
Age: bone density peaks around age 30, after which, bones start to lose both mass and density; for some women, 20% of bone density can be lost in the first 5-7 years after menopause.
Gender: women 50+ are the most likely to develop osteoporosis. (review link above to understand why)
Family History: research is starting to show a genetic connection between bone density and the development of osteoporosis.
Bone Structure: people with smaller bones have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, because they have less density to spare.
Previous broken bones: they are not as strong as unbroken bones.
Ethnicity: research shows that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Certain diseases: rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Some medications: such as steroids taken for long periods of time can decrease bone density.
Smoking and Alcohol use leads to thinning bones.
What can you do?
Calcium & Vitamin D
To maintain good bone health we must make sure to provide our bodies with adequate sources of calcium and vitamin D. This mineral and vitamin help bones reach their peak mass. Why do you need both? Because vitamin D is necessary in order for your body to absorb calcium.
Choose foods rich in calcium and vitamin D each day. These include:
If you do not like any of the foods above, you should connect with your doctor to determine whether you should start supplementation.
It is not just about ensuring that you are integrating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D but also incorporating weight-bearing activities such as weight-training, walking, hiking, dancing. Remember, bone is living tissue and it responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Exercise can also help maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn helps us prevent falls which can lead to fractures.
Research also supports drinking alcohol in moderation and quitting smoking as soon as you can.
Early Detection - The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women aged 65 years and older be screened (i.e. have a bone density test) for osteoporosis, as well as women under 65 who are at increased risk for osteoporosis-related fractures. Besides the USPSTF there are a number of organizations that support these recommendations including The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and The International Society for Clinical Densitometry.
Please share this post with women in your life to ensure they can build and maintain strong bones throughout their life!
Our team of Dietitians can help you to integrate these calcium and vitamin D rich foods into your meals. Our team can also help with a variety of other health conditions affecting women that can be aided with good nutrition, including:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Pre, peri, and post menopause
Iron deficiency anemia
Pregnancy & lactation support
Contact our team today to talk to one of our Dietitians for support in any of these areas.