Menopause is a delicate period in every woman’s life. It is the time when hormonal changes are causing the menstrual cycle to stop, which happens between the ages of 45 and 55. Those changes can start some years before the very menopause occurs, due to perimenopause (when the ovaries start cutting back on the production of estrogen and progesterone).
Because estrogen plays a vital role in maintaining bone strength, after a certain age, bone loss is increased. For women whose bone strength was not ideal before the menopause, the risks of osteoporosis is greater. Let us see how calcium intake can affect that.
The Risk of Osteoporosis
It is estimated that, in the first five years of menopause, an average women can lose up to 10 percent of her bone mass. Osteoporosis, precisely, occurs when the bones become thinner, which makes them more prone to fracture.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 200 million women around the world are affected by this illness. There are many treatments for postmenopausal osteoporosis which can reduce the risk of fractures. Prevention is the best cure. Women can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by exercising regularly and increasing calcium intake in their diet.
How to Increase Calcium Intake?
It is believed that sufficient calcium intake can be obtained through diet. Still, if you are in the risky years, you should consider using other sources too. The most common source of calcium are, of course, dairy products, but you should not limit your choice to them alone. Collard greens actually fulfill a quarter of your daily needs and other foods you should include into your diet are broccoli, Chinese cabbage, edamame, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, tofu, almonds, etc.
Do not stop there, though, sometimes when the nature is not enough or you are deprived of some sources (dairy products because of lactose intolerance, for instance), you can compensate the lack of that mineral with calcium supplements.
Ensuring Optimal Absorption of Calcium
There are some factors which can limit calcium absorption. Those are low levels of vitamin D caused by age-related decrease of intake, consuming large amounts of phytates (contained in grains) and excessive amounts of oxalic acid (spinach and other greens), consuming a lot of tannins (teas) and acid-suppressant medications. To ensure the optimal absorption of calcium for healthy bones you can take calcium carbonate with your meals, take divided doses of calcium throughout the day, drink plenty of water and get plenty of vitamin D.
Remember that more is not always better. Make sure you limit the calcium intake to not more than 2, 5000 mg per day. A larger amount can increase the risk of hypercalcemia (a condition caused by too much calcium in the blood) which can, in its most extreme cases, lead to kidney failure.
Preserving your health gets more and more important as you age, but if you had taken care of your body and mind in your younger days that should not be a significant problem.