Calcium Rich Food is Better than Supplements for Menopausal Women

Calcium Rich Food is Better than Supplements for Menopausal Women

Most Americans get only half the calcium they need from their diet. If you do not get enough calcium from the foods you eat, take calcium and vitamin D supplements. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.Adding plenty of calcium to the diet can also help a menopausal women avoid bone loss. (Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, almonds, and dried beans).The Isoflavones in plant soy have been found to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Physicians at the University of Michigan Health System advise everyone to begin taking precautions today and throughout their entire lives prevent the bone breaks and fractures caused by osteoporosis.In fact, osteoporosis causes 1.3 million fractures of the wrist, vertebrae, and hips each year in the United States. Most women are at risk starting in mid-life, and in later years, so are men. However, many people are unaware of their risk for osteoporosis and the affects it can have on the body.

Menopause is a normal biological event that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It is the point when menstruation stops permanently. On average, menopause occurs at age 51, but like the beginning of menstruation in adolescence, timing varies from person to person. Today, an estimated 50 million women in the United States have reached menopause and most women will spend at least one-third of their lives in or beyond menopause.

Studies have shown that most of a female's bone mass is built between the ages of 13 and 15 and then slowly lost in the last four decades of her life. Therefore, attaining optimal bone mass and bone strength in adolescence may offer the best protection possible against osteoporosis bone loss in post-menopausal women and the elderly.Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder affecting the strength of bones, predominately in post-menopausal women.For premenopausal women treated for breast cancer, osteoporosis is also a concern.

The rediscovery of earlier information that calcium deficiency led to the development of osteoporosis (not rickets and osteomalacia) notably in postmenopausal women.It is stated that menopausal bone loss was not due to a decrease in bone formation but rather to an increase in bone resorption ; this has had a profound effect on our understanding of other forms of osteoporosis.

The most important single cause of osteoporosis - at least in developed countries - is probably menopause, which is accompanied by an unequivocal and sustained rise in obligatory urinary calcium of about 30 mg (0.75 mmol) daily . Because calcium absorption certainly does not increase at this time - and probably decreases - this extra urinary calcium represents a negative calcium balance which is compatible with the average bone loss of about 0.5-1.0 percent per year after menopause.

So a positive calcium balance (i.e. net calcium retention) is required throughout growth, particularly during the first 2 years of life and during puberty and adolescence. These age groups therefore constitute populations at risk for calcium deficiency, as do pregnant women (especially in the last trimester), lactating women, postmenopausal women, and, possibly, elderly men.

The effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density has been the subject of many studies. In general, calcium has a small beneficial effect on bone mineral density, but it may be less effective in preventing bone loss in women who have recently undergone menopause and at sites rich in trabecular bone. When administered in doses of 400 to 800 IU per day,
vitamin D by itself probably has little effect on bone mineral density, except among subjects who have a deficiency of vitamin D. Some studies have indicated that, when given with calcium, supplementation of at least 700 IU of vitamin
D daily reduces the risk of fracture.The inconsistency of these results suggests that any benefit of calcium plus vitamin D on bone mineral density or the risk of fracture is, at best, small and may vary from group to group.

Osteoporosis (severe deterioration of the bones) is a major health hazard of menopause. Slender Caucasian women are at highest risk. Women who smoke cigarettes, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, take corticosteroids, have a low intake of calcium, or have a passive lifestyle are also at risk. Cardiovascular disease progresses more rapidly after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.

A study of 3270 elderly women (mean age, 84 years) showed that 1200 mg/d of calcium plus 800 IU/d of vitamin D reduced hip fractures by 29% and total nonvertebral fractures by 24% after just 36 months .

Another recent study showed that elderly women treated with calcium (1200 mg/d) and vitamin D (800 IU/d) experienced a 49% reduction in the risk of falling, which suggests that one of the antifracture effects of vitamin D may be improving musculoskeletal function.Eat six small meals a day and increase the foods containing calcium and vitamin D in your diet.

Women who want to keep their bones strong after menopause may be better off eating plenty of calcium-rich food than relying on supplements for their intake of the mineral, recent study shows.

Postmenopausal women who got their calcium mainly from diet or from diet and supplements had a greater average bone mineral density (BMD) than women who got most of their calcium from supplements, principal investigator Dr. Reina C. Armamento-Villareal of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and her colleagues found.

"If you can get it from the diet that's the best source," Armamento-Villareal told Reuters Health.

In their report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, she and her colleagues point out that calcium influences how the body metabolizes estrogen, a key bone-building hormone. To better understand the calcium-estrogen relationship, Armamento-Villareal and her team looked at how different forms of calcium affected BMD.

The researchers also looked at the ratio of active to inactive estrogen metabolites in the urine. Active estrogen metabolites have estrogen-like affects on the body, meaning they can help build bone, while inactive metabolites have no estrogenic effects.

The researchers looked at 168 healthy postmenopausal women. Thirty-three received most of their calcium from supplements, averaging about 1,030 mg daily; 70 didn't take supplements, and received a daily average of 830 mg of calcium; and 65 women received dietary and supplemental calcium, for a total daily average intake of 1,620 mg.

Women in the diet group and those in the diet plus supplement group had higher ratios of active to inactive estrogen metabolites in their urine compared with women in the supplement-only group, the researchers found.

The women in groups that did not receive supplements, even those in the diet-only group who took in less total calcium, also had higher BMD at several sites in the skeleton.

There are a number of mechanisms by which dietary calcium might build bones more efficiently than supplemental calcium, the researchers note. Calcium from dairy and other foods may be easier for the body to metabolize. It may also be, they add, that women who eat a calcium-rich diet may have been healthier eaters all their lives.

Nevertheless, Armamento-Villareal points out that, the total amount of calcium intake is still important, and women who can't stand eating dairy should be sure to get enough of the mineral by taking supplements.

Another research shows calcium in food might do more to protect bones than supplemental calcium in pill form, according to results presented at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis in Toronto, Canada. Bones lose calcium as they age, making them vulnerable to osteoporosis and fractures.In separate presentations, researchers from the Netherlands report that vitamin D supplements reduce fracture risk only in the presence of additional calcium.

Women also increased the amount of calcium in their diets in recent years, another trend that might have affected the 2003 breast cancer rate. Results from another Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study showed a modest decrease in breast cancer risk in women who used calcium when compared with women who didn't use calcium.

Women 51 or older: 1,200 mg/calcium/daily. (Postmenopausal women should take adequate supplemental elemental calcium (generally 500 to 1000 mg per day) in divided doses, at mealtime, such that their total calcium intake, inclusive of food calcium, approximates 1,500 mg/day.

To decrease the risk of chronic disease, women can adopt a healthy lifestyle by not smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and limiting the consumption of alcohol. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D or taking dietary supplements containing these nutrients can help prevent osteoporosis. Results from the WHI showed that taking calcium and vitamin D supplements provided some benefit in preserving bone mass and preventing hip fractures, particularly in women age 60 and older.Calcium is found in many foods, including dairy products such as milk or yogurt, fortified orange juice, and many vegetables.

So experts recommended that all women 65 or above get the bone density test, and younger women at the time of menopause or thereafter should get the test if they have any clinical risk factors for osteoporosis.


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