After menopause you can really start to lose bone density, or bone mass. Your body regularly breaks down old bone tissue and replaces it with new bone tissue. By the middle years, your body may be breaking down more bone tissue, and replacing with less.
If you've had broken bones as an adult, or your family history includes broken bones or osteoporosis, you may be at greater risk of osteoporosis. If your ovaries were surgically removed before menopause or you've experienced early menopause, you may be at higher risk.
Still, there are ways to decrease, delay or prevent loss of bone density. Diet and exercise are your tools.
Make a point of getting more calcium in your diet through dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fish with soft bones like salmon.
Supplements like calcium carbonate and calcium citrate can be beneficial. Keep in mind that increased calcium also calls for increased magnesium.
Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. Some vitamin D is found in cereal, eggs, fatty fish and milk that has been fortified. Vitamin D supplements are also available.
Make sure you have plenty of protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin C in your diet, or as supplements. Avoid processed foods.
If you tolerate grains well, choose whole grains over enriched products. If gluten is a problem for you, as happens to many people by middle-age, consider a gluten-free grain like quinoa.
Embrace a wide array of vegetables. Many older people can't handle fruit like they used to so if this is you, limit your fruit intake. If fruit is on your menu, go for variety over quantity.
Physical activity helps to strengthen your bones. Weight-bearing exercises like dancing, jogging, tennis and walking three or four times a week can help prevent osteoporosis.
Some drugs can weaken bones. Glucocorticoids for arthritis and asthma, some antiseizure drugs and sleeping pills, some cancer drugs and endometriosis treatments can decrease bone mass.
Research from the Medical College of Georgia suggested that vibration can improve bone mass. This could be a great breakthrough since hip fractures are such a problem for seniors.