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We’ve all heard of it. Sometimes we see it when we go to the doctor for our exams. Osteoporosis is a disease that can affect up to ten million people in a given time period. What most people don’t know, however, is that osteoporosis affects mostly women and can start as early as the mid-30’s. Osteoporosis generally causes bones to lose mass, therefore becoming brittle and breaking more easily than they would have before the onset of the disease. In older women, such fractures and breakages can often require long stays in a hospital. What can a woman do to protect herself from osteoporosis?

Bones will get thinner as time goes on naturally, but women that have just been through menopause are much more at risk. Before you learn what you can do to stop osteoporosis, you must first be aware of what can increase your risk. First of all, find out before you begin menopause whether or not your family has a history of osteoporosis. Although there is not a direct genetic cause for osteoporosis, recent studies show that there is a correlation between family history of osteoporosis and the onset of osteoporosis in a family member. Alcohol use and smoking can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, as does exercising very little or not at all. If you are above age thirty and are smoking, drinking and do not get much exercise, consider modifying your lifestyle now to decrease your chances of suffering from the affects of osteoporosis in your old age.

Of course, the amount of calcium consumed is directly linked with osteoporosis, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet each day. If your diet isn’t cutting it, you can take a calcium supplement, but make sure that your supplement includes magnesium (or take a separate magnesium supplement) to make sure that your body actually absorbs the calcium. Without magnesium, your body will actually only utilize a small portion of the calcium that you are taking. Medical professionals recommend a good 1,000 mg of calcium each day if you’re between the age of 19 and 50, and if you’re past the age of 50, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting at least 1,200 mg a day of calcium. You will also need to make sure you get the proper amount of vitamin D, which will also assist your body in absorbing the calcium. You can get vitamin D from fortified whole milk or from just getting some sun here and there.

Making sure you are getting enough of the aforementioned vitamins is essential for preventing osteoporosis. Exercise and a healthy diet will also help keep your bones strong, helping them not to break as easily when natural thinning of the bones occurs. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis already, talk with your doctor about treatment options that will help you live a happy and more comfortable life.

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