Healthy Bones, Healthy Joints, Healthy You
More than 8 million women in the US have osteoporosis and more than 22 million more have low bone density, which puts them right on the brink of developing osteoporosis in the very near future. If you combined breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, a woman would still have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis than all the other three together. The sad fact is that osteoporosis just doesn’t get the attention it should and many don’t even know they have it until they slip and break a wrist or hip one day.
Women start to lose bone mass as early as age 35, so it’s important to start prevention early. “Our bones and joints are living tissue, like the rest of the body,” says Peter Sharkey, M.D., a joint-replacement specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Rothman Institute. By nurturing this tissue, you can keep your body’s structure strong.
The Basics: Most women don’t get enough calcium in their everyday diet, so try to keep important calcium rich foods like yogurt and collard greens on your grocery list. Supplementing with a good quality calcium citrate and magnesium pill can help too. “Our production of stomach acid slows as we age; calcium citrate doesn’t require stomach acid to be broken down by the body, unlike other forms of calcium,” says naturopathic doctor Christie Yerby of Optimal Health Resources in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Recommended: 1000 mg per day; 50+ 1200 to 1500mg per day.
Magnesium is also essential to prevent bone loss. This mineral helps the body absorb and regulate calcium levels and, like vitamin D, should be paired with calcium. Otherwise, the calcium could get stored in the tissues, kidneys, or arteries, where it could be harmful. Recommended: About 500 mg daily (roughly a 2:1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio).
Get plenty of D. Vitamin D is essential to helping calcium be absorbed into your bones. Try getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight twice a week to help your body naturally produce this bone strengthening vitamin. Living in Wisconsin it may be harder than thought to get those 15 minutes, so bone up with 1000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the most active form, each day. Recommended: 400 to 800 IU per day.
The Basic Facts of Arthritis
Symptoms: Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, especially in the knees, hips, neck, fingers, and lower back.
What causes it: OA can occur from wear and tear on joints with aging, though scientists now suspect that chronic inflammation—due to poor diet, obesity, hormonal changes, stress, or allergies—is another culprit.
Who’s at risk: Middle-aged and older adults. More women have OA than men.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS An autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues triggering inflammation in the lining of joints. It causes swelling, aching, and throbbing, and possible deformity in advanced stages.
Symptoms: Pain in the fingers, hands, and wrists; fatigue, fever, and weakness.
What causes it: Exact cause is unknown, but the immune system, gender, genetics, and infection can increase risk.
Who’s at risk: Onset is more common in women ages 30 to 50, but it also affects men and children.