Why is bone health so important in menopause?

Why is bone health so important in menopause?

Bone health is a worry for many menopausal women and understandably so. Why? Oestrogen has a protective effect on bone density, and during the menopause when oestrogen drops, so does its protective effects for you bones.

It may surprise you to know that bone density is lost by up to 3% per year in post-menopausal women, and in some cases can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Although menopausal women lose the protective oestrogen, dietary and lifestyle changes can slow down bone loss, prevent bone loss and in fact strengthen bones. As a result, it is important to invest time and effort into your bone health during and after menopause, before too much density is lost and signs of osteopenia and osteoporosis show up. We also recommend reading 5 things nutritionists wish all women knew.

It is also a good idea to have a bone density scan to assess your fracture risk so you can keep track of any bone loss, and progress with diet and lifestyle changes.

diet profile nutrition support

Not sure what nutrients your diet provides? Create your free Diet Profile.

Top nutrients needed for bone health

Here are the essential nutrients you need in your diet to support and strengthen your bones during menopause. Not sure what nutrients your diet is providing? Create your free Diet Profile in only 3 minutes and find out.

Calcium

Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. Enough calcium must be consumed to maintain bone density. Calcium doesn’t necessarily need to come from dairy products as most people think, there are plenty of plant-based calcium sources that don’t come from animals. That said, taking  calcium in a bone supplement, with supporting nutrients, should also be taken to boost intake.

Magnesium

Magnesium works directly with calcium and in balance with it for the structure of bones.

If you're unsure about whether your diet includes enough Magnesium, read our expert nutritionists' article 'How do I know if I'm deficient in Magnesium?'.

While deficiency in magnesium is rare, whatever your diet, it can be difficult to consume enough magnesium to support your bones, particularly through menopause. The body uses magnesium for over 300 processes in your body, including to help you manage stress and anxiety, and to process sugars and caffeine, so the more of these you have, the more magnesium your body requires. Supplementing with magnesium alongside calcium will ensure you have enough magnesium, and in the right ratio to calcium.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin for bone health. Vitamin D is needed to make calcium available for the body to absorb. So, in a nutshell, insufficient Vitamin D means that the calcium you do consume in your diet can't be used by your body. Vitamin D can also be synthesised by the body from exposure to the sun.

Unfortunately, not many people spend enough time in the sun, particularly in the darker months. Vitamin D3 is a superior form of Vitamin D supplementation than Vitamin D2 - this is because the body makes a more active Vitamin D from D3 compared to D2. Supplementing with a vegan form of vitamin D3 ensures you have a good daily intake of Vitamin D in its preferential form.

Learn why our Vitamin D3 is optimal.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is another essential vitamin needed for the body to use calcium. Vitamin K2 takes the calcium in your body and puts it into your bones. Having enough vitamin K2 is just as important as having enough calcium, yet it is often missed in standard bone health supplements. Vitamin K2 is a key ingredient in our Bone & Muscle Support formula.

Red Clover 

Red clover is a herb with phytoestrogen properties. Phytoestrogens have an oestrogen effect in the body, and when in the form of red clover, they may reduce the rate of bone loss in menopausal women.

Wild Yam 

Wild Yam, an ingredient in the loved formula MenoFriend® has oestrogen properties and is used by many menopausal women. Studies show the benefits of menopausal women supplementing with Wild Yam, which includes an increased oestrogen level. Increased oestrogen in menopausal women may decrease the rate of bone loss.

5 top tips for bone health in the menopause

Here are five tips to keep your bones healthy and strong during menopause and post-menopause.

1. Weight-bearing exercise daily

Daily weight-bearing exercise is one of the best ways to decrease the rate of bone loss and to maintain bone mass. Weight-bearing exercise tells the bones that they are still needed and reduces the rate at which they are broken down.

Going for a walk is a good weight-bearing activity - it is gentle on the body and can be done by most people. Add in the benefits of being with nature which reduces stress, it becomes even more beneficial. Strength and resistance exercise is also very beneficial for bone density. You can also use a vibration plate while exercising at home for 15 minutes twice daily which also helps to prevent bone loss.

Read our nutritionists advice in 'Best supplements for women over 50'.

2. Eliminate refined sugar and carbohydrates from your diet

Refined sugar and refined carbohydrates are a disaster for the body for everyone, but especially in menopausal women looking out for bone health.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates have an acidic affect in the body. Since calcium is alkaline, and the body tries to keep the blood at a constant pH, it releases calcium into the blood. When this calcium has done its job with balancing pH, it is then excreted in urine and is lost forever. Preventing the tissues from becoming acidic by cutting out refined sugars and carbohydrates, you prevent this from happening, and the calcium stays in your bones.

3. Manage stress

Cortisol, your stress hormone, also has an acidic effect on the tissues and can cause calcium to drain away from bones. The adaptogen Ashwagandha KSM-66® is acclaimed for supporting your mental well-being, reducing stress, bringing a sense of calm, and promoting relaxation in your body. Ashwagandha KSM-66 is also in our acclaimed Stay Calm formula for reliving anxiety and managing stress. Learn more in 'What is cortisol?'.

Managing stress by meditation, yoga, re-organising your life and daily walking in nature will have a positive effect on your bone health.

4. Eat plenty of phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant-based oestrogens and found in many plant foods, and there are particularly high levels in nuts, seeds, berries, chickpeas and in soya. Adding in as many of these foods as possible each day in to your diet can help the body deal with oestrogen loss better.

To learn more, we recommend reading 'Nutrition for menopause', written by Dr Katie Hodgkinson, a menopause and hormone health expert and registered nutritionist.

5. Take probiotics

A good level of probiotics in the gut is the foundation for good health. Probiotics are vital for the digestion and absorption of foods and nutrients which are necessary for maintaining bone mass. Learn more in 'What are probiotics?'.

Discover Gut Works | 50bn CFU, Prebiotic & Probiotic

Gut Works®, with 50bn CFU, is our advanced formula of clinically studied live and friendly bacteria (aka 'probiotics') and prebiotics for complete gut health, relieving IBS and providing daily support for your digestion, brain and immune health. Gut Works has been shown to be 3x more effective than standard probiotics.

Probiotics also produce Vitamin K, an essential bone nutrient. Research suggests that probiotics taken from food and supplementation can increase bone density.

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