Every day we hear many women’s fears about what menopause means for bone loss. They
may first get concerned when their doctors recommend a bone density scan. Others
have a family history of osteoporosis and fracture, or are seeing early signs, such
as receding gums. And of course, it’s hard not to be frightened when we hear about
“inevitable bone loss” as we age.
No matter the reason, if you’re worried, we want you to take heart in the reality
that it’s never too early or too late to protect your bones. That’s because while
you will experience bone loss in menopause, you can consider the menopause transition
your window of opportunity to prevent the excessive loss that can lead to osteoporosis
Bone loss in menopause: the role of estrogen and progesterone
Most of us do experience bone loss in menopause — and that’s completely natural.
In fact, the average loss is about 8-10% of bone density in the 10 years around
menopause. Most bone loss for women takes place in the timeframe that starts one
year before a woman’s last period and ends two years after her last period. It becomes
a serious issue when bone loss is excessive — up to 20% for some women.
When it comes to women’s bone loss, there’s been a lot of research about the role
played by the reduction in estrogen that occurs with menopause. For example, estrogen
helps us absorb, through the intestine, enough of the calcium we need for bone health,
and to prevent bone breakdown. More recent research has linked changes in bone health
and the decrease of progesterone that happens in perimenopause, when we also lose
bone. What’s certain is that increased fluctuations to our sex hormones in perimenopause
and menopause influence our bone loss.
Know your risk factors for bone loss, osteoporosis and fracture
We know that only about 20% of your bone health is determined by fixed risk factors,
like age and family history. The other 80% are factors you can change, including
nutrient intake, diet, exercise, stress reduction and promoting positive thoughts
For example, did you know that weighing less than 120 pounds is a risk factor? Or
that the more severe your menopause symptoms are, the more likely it is that you’re
losing bone? Or that you may be eating an acidic diet that is slowly dissolving
You can find out more about your individual risk and whether you’re experiencing
early signs of bone loss by taking the Bone
Strategies to reduce your risk in menopause
No matter what your risk factors, when you take the steps to support your body it
has a remarkable ability to heal itself and continue to build bone. Using natural,
holistic approach strategies will help you reduce your individual amount of bone
loss during the menopause transition, and even build bone in some cases.
These are the key steps we recommend:
Get all of the 20 essential key nutrients every day
for bone health, including vitamin D and vitamin K. Often it is difficult to get
optimal amounts of all the nutrients we need from food alone, which is why we recommend
Remember building muscle and bone go hand in hand.
With rigorous strength training routines, women in early post-menopause can gain
an average of 1.5% in bone mineral density in as little as nine months — compared
with the 2% of lost bone that might otherwise occur.
Alkalize your diet. Many women in the U.S. suffer
from chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis, which means the pH in our blood and tissues
is acidic. This harms bones because they release mineral compounds to counter the
excess acidity. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts
and lean protein will help you maintain a more alkaline balance and protect your
Balance your hormones. You’ve seen how fluctuations
in estrogen and progesterone affect bone loss in perimenopause and menopause.
Take care with weight loss. Low weight is an important
risk factor for bone loss, along with advancing age. Try not to let your weight
get below 120 lbs. If you do need to lose weight, make sure you do it slowly and
in a careful way. Fad diets are never a good idea, but even less so in menopause.
Improve digestion. This helps ensure your body is
absorbing the necessary nutrients. For example, eat foods that are cooked, rather
than cold or raw foods. Chewing each bite of food up to 30 times will also aid in
the digestive process.
Reduce physical and emotional stress. The hormones
of distress, including cortisol, can damage bone. Think about ways you can incorporate
rest, relaxation and self-care as daily routines —it can be as simple as a short
To help you put everything together, Women’s Health Network offers a comprehensive
at-home natural approach that incorporates all of these steps to build bone, balance
hormones and prevent other menopause symptoms. Why not make this time in your life
a transition to greater health, happiness and peace of mind because you know that
you’re doing everything you can for your bone health?
Start reducing your risk
of bone loss and fracture