Building Strong Bones for Women
As far as bone density goes, it’s all downhill for women after age 35. But bone mass begins to drop even more precipitously following menopause, according to Mary Ann Portman, M.D., director of the Midlife Health Center at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA.
According to Dr. Portman, women should make sure to:
- Get 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily through diet, supplementation or a combination of the two, in servings of no more than 600 milligrams at any one time. One eight-ounce glass of milk or calcium-fortified orange juice contains about 300 milligrams of calcium.
- Take about 400 milligrams of vitamin D daily, which is available in supplement form along with calcium. Some brands include magnesium to minimize stomach upset.
- Schedule a bone-density test every two years. Medicare will cover the cost of this test.
- Quit or reduce smoking. In addition to its other detrimental health effects, tobacco use can accelerate bone loss.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
(Dr. Portman is an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.)
By Teresa K. Flatley