Estrogen and Osteoporosis
Scientists have discovered that estrogen is crucial to the bone remodeling process, aiding the body’s absorption of calcium to contribute to bone mineral content. When estrogen levels fall after menopause, the delicate balance of bone remodeling is tipped toward the side of the breaking down of bone.
Women need to be especially careful to supply their bones with enough calcium and vitamin D both before and after menopause.
It’s also wise to include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and beans in your diet. Those foods contain substantial amounts of magnesium, a crucial mineral for calcium absorption. If you don’t absorb the calcium you ingest, kidney stones or calcium deposits may form in your arteries and joints.
As you move through your 40s toward menopause, your digestive tract is kept on changing. You can become lactose intolerant, which means that your body cannot tolerate the sugars in milk. Otherwise, you may want to cut dairy products from your diet and replace them with calcium supplements.
But you can take steps at any stage of adult life to increase your chances of preventing osteoporosis. A few lifestyle changes now could save you from losing too much bone after menopause and becoming a candidate for the bone-thinning and stress fractures of this disease, which can go undetected until it’s too late.
Among those in this high-risk group are people who have taken steroids for extended periods of time, women who have amenorrhea, those with eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, or women who had early surgical menopause.
By maintaining a moderate level of physical exertion may help to keep your bones dense. Doing weight-bearing exercise puts stress on your bones, stimulating the build-up of bone tissue. Remember to support your physical activity program with adequate rest, nutrition, and calcium intake.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Simply stated, with osteoporosis bones become more porous, abnormally thin, with loss of the calcified architecture or calcium. We have two types of bone: compact or cortical bone, which seems solid and hard, and trabecular bone, which is spongy and lighter. The compact bone is found mainly in the shafts of our long bones such as legs and arms; trabecular bone is found in the ends of the long bones, in the spinal vertebrae, and in the heel bones, ribs, and jaw.
You may be surprised to learn that bone is not a permanent, static substance. It is a living tissue.
Old bone cells are constantly being broken down and replaced with new bone cells in a process called bone remodeling or bone formation. The continual remodeling and repairing are in response to wear and tear, mechanical stress, and the metabolic demands placed upon them. As metabolically our bodies need to have access to calcium and other minerals, most bone mass is built during childhood and adolescence.
During our growing years, the osteoblasts stay way ahead of the osteoclasts (bone loss), creating more bone than is destroyed. It is in early adulthood, with the proper nutrition and exercise, and good health in general, our bones not only grow larger but also grow denser.
Unless you’ve had a condition that depletes the bone mass, your bones continue to increase slightly in density until the age of 35. At that time, both men and women begin to lose a little up to 1% a year of their bone density. Men usually start with greater bone mass, however, so if they get osteoporosis, it usually occurs much later in life.
It’s believed that our bones reach their peak density between our mid-twenties and late thirties.
For example, rapid bone loss occurs with bed rest, anorexia, malabsorption, from several diseases and medications. It is also common for the transition into menopause to be a period of rapid bone loss. With prolonged and accelerated rapid loss, the compact bone becomes thinner, the trabecular bone becomes spongier, with larger holes, and the bones become weak and vulnerable to breakage.
Studies show that women who take estrogen for at least seven years cut their risk of hip fractures in half during the time they use the drug. However, once you stop the therapy, bone loss resumes at the usual accelerated rate found in the early stages of menopause.
Caucasian women aged around 50 are at much more risk than men, and one-half of will suffer one or another osteoporotic fracture during her lifetime, this high incidence of osteoporosis is not universal. Women in less industrialized/Westernized countries living more traditional lifestyles like the native populations of Africa and New Zealand, the Japanese and Chinese, have much lower rates of osteoporotic fracture. Unfortunately, the osteoporotic fracture rate is gradually rising in developing countries as they “modernize,” changing their lifestyle, eating, and exercise patterns.
The risk factors encouraging bone breakdown are low nutrient intake, high intake of nutrient robbers like sugar, coffee, alcohol, excess sodas, phosphorus, protein, and fat; an overall acid-forming diet; drugs and medications; inactivity and a profound lack of exercise; food allergies; mal-absorption; and endocrine factors like ovary removal, low hormone levels, adrenal or thyroid weakness.
- Women above 65 years old.
- A genetic disorder or other words, it is inherited.
- Illness related to osteoporosis like rheumatism and arthritis.
- Suffer major bones fractured in early years (bones fractured, broken at the finger, facial, skull, etc.)
- Menopause before 40 years old.
- During the reproductive period, there was no menstrual accumulation of more than 2 years.
- Use of steroids for extended periods of time.
- Alzheimer’s or memory loss that leads to movement abnormalities.
- Thyroid problem for more than 1 year.
- Medical history of the thyroid.
- Liver patient.
- Suffers from bad or failed vision.
- Long-term consumption of alcohol.
In order to find out more about bone health, you may go through testing in urine, blood samples, or bone scans. Many knew of bone loss but neglect to do any tests.
Calcium is what gives bone its strength, but it also serves many other functions.
It is needed for our muscles to grow, contract, relax, and most importantly our heart muscle needs calcium to function. It also allows the smooth muscles of our blood vessels to relax and therefore plays a role in lowering blood pressure.
Calcium is required for a healthy nervous system.
About 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies resides in our bones; in order to be available to perform these crucial functions, there is a give-and-take of calcium between our bones and our other tissues via the bloodstream.
Our skeleton not only holds us up so we can dance and walk, but also functions as a calcium bank, and when too much calcium is withdrawn from the bank and not replaced, osteoporosis is the result. Bone is largely composed of calcium, and calcium intake clearly plays a role in building and maintaining strong bones.
However, ingesting lots of calcium either from food or supplements isn’t the only answer to preventing this condition. In spite of all the hype about milk and calcium supplements, the scientific evidence that humans need huge amounts is weak. Women in less-developed countries consume much less calcium and milk than we do, yet they have much less osteoporosis.
By taking estrogen, particularly soon after menopause, and continued life long can decrease the risk of hip fracture by 30-40 percent and spinal fractures by up to 50-75 percent in women.