27 Aug 2021

What is menopause doing to my bones?

Menopause is a major risk factor for the ‘thinning bone’ disease osteoporosis. This is because oestrogen plays a key role in forming bone tissue and when your oestrogen levels drop during menopause, your body’s ability to form strong bones also falls. Luckily there are things you can do to prevent and combat this decline in bone health.

What happens to my bones during menopause?

Oestrogen plays a key role in the formation of bone tissue by keeping the balance between bone formation (building up) and bone resorption (breaking down).  As oestrogen levels drop during and after menopause, bone resorption increases, accelerating bone loss. This, in turn, puts you at risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering bone fractures. If you have an early menopause before the age of 45, you’re at an even greater risk of this happening.

It’s thought that women can lose up to 20% of their bone density between five to seven years after menopause and scientists estimate that up to half of all women aged over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.

Silent menopause symptom

Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease because you cannot see or feel your bones deteriorating. Compared to many other menopause symptoms that are keenly felt or visible - such as hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety, brain fog and tearfulness - weakening bones aren’t evident. Until, of course, you get a fracture.  By which time, the damage has been done.  Furthermore, while other menopause symptoms will resolve themselves over time, deteriorating bone health will simply worsen unless you do something about it.

RELATED: Osteoporosis & Menopause: Causes, risk factors & treatment

What can I do about it?

Knowing that menopause will trigger a change in your body’s ability to build healthy bone tissue, it is better to be proactive and take action to prevent osteoporosis.  And the sooner you start, the better.

Can I build new bone tissue?

Yes, you can! Bone is made up of living tissue which can be regenerated if you stimulate your bone building cells (osteoblasts) into action. You can do this in a variety of ways through exercise, nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices.

Exercise

Being physically active is your best defence against bone disease. You need to do both ‘aerobic’ and ‘weight bearing’ exercise.

Aerobic exercise involves you using oxygen in whole body movements such as running, jumping, dancing and skipping. The jolt you get when you land is good for your bones.  Be careful though! If you already have weak bones – as shown on a Dexa scan – opt for low impact movements where you don’t ‘land’ so heavily. For example, walk rather than run and do low impact aerobics rather than high impact classes.

It’s also worth noting that cycling and swimming aren’t good for bone health: they’re great exercise for your heart and lungs but because your weight is suspended, they won’t help you build strong bones! Weight bearing exercises are another great way to boost your bone-building potential. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you need to lift heavy weights! The ‘weight’ here is your body so any exercise that sees you use your body weight against gravity will count – such as squats, lunges and press ups. They all make your muscles pull on your bones to stimulate them into action. Exercises using weights like dumbbells, kettlebells or light weights are also great for bone health.

RELATED: The benefits of exercise over 40

Nutrition

A healthy diet for bone building includes good sources of calcium and vitamin D.  The daily recommendation for calcium is 700 milligrams (mg) per day. Good food sources are low fat dairy products, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, pulses, nuts and seeds. If you’re not sure you’re getting enough, consider taking a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because we get around 90% of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. Good food sources also help and these include oily fish, dairy products, fortified margarine and eggs.

Again, to really be on the safe side, a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D is recommended - especially in autumn and winter when the UK is not known for its sunny days!

RELATED: Nutrition for your skin, hair and nails in menopause

Cut down drinking and stop smoking

Alcohol and smoking are bad for bones. A little alcohol is fine but avoid ‘binge drinking’. And try to give up smoking completely as it’s very bad for your overall health.

Good vibrations

Another option to help prevent and combat low bone density is low-intensity vibration which is clinically proven to prevent bone loss.  Low-intensity vibration - LiV for short – is the technical term for targeted low-magnitude mechanical signals that are precisely set at 30 Hz to stimulate your body’s bone building cells into action. It’s a completely safe and natural way to stimulate your cells to build bone.

Research backs this up with one recent study concluding that “Low-magnitude whole-body vibration therapy can provide a significant improvement in reducing bone loss in the lumbar spine in post-menopausal women.”

Another one-year placebo-controlled research study of post-menopausal women demonstrated that low-level vibration effectively inhibits bone loss in the spine and femur. The researchers concluded that “if used regularly, the progress of osteoporosis can be at least slowed down, stopped or even reversed.”

‘Bad’ vibrations

Low Intensity Vibration (LiV) must not be confused with Whole Body Vibration (WBV) – which you find in more vigorous vibrating plates at the gym. In fact, WBV is contraindicated for people with poor bone health, so it’s best avoided if you have any concerns and leave WBV for people who are fit enough to tolerate extreme forces and accelerations.

LiV really is rocket science!

LiV was originally developed in partnership with NASA. Astronauts’ bones don’t experience loads while they are weightless in space and this leads to the loss of bone mineral density, just as in osteoporosis. On average, an astronaut loses as much bone in space in one month as a perimenopausal woman does on earth in one year! It took over 35 years to develop and perfect the LiV technology.  And now we can have this technology in our own homes.

Knowledge is power

The knowledge that menopause will trigger a reduced ability to form strong bones is powerful!  It means you can take preventative action through making careful exercise and nutrition choices - and add in LiV if you feel particularly at risk or worried.  All these options can help minimise your risk of osteoporosis, all without having to resort to medication.

Don’t take your chances: take action!

Remember, just because you can’t feel your bones getting weaker, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Whatever you do, do something. Get active, enjoy the sunshine and eat well. Your bones will thank you!

Marodyne LiV is the world’s first device clinically approved to prevent and treat osteoporosis by delivering very gentle, low-intensity vibrations (LiV) to the body. It takes just 10 minutes a day to get results which include improved movement, flexibility and freedom.

Special offer for all Latte Loungers

Save £100 and enjoy free shipping (usually £99) on a Marodyne LiV low-intensity vibration device to boost your bone health.

Osteoporosis: the scale of the problem

  • 3 million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis (1)
  • It is estimated that 500,000 women aged 50-64 have osteoporosis (2)
  • 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 are expected to break a bone each year (4)
  • More than 500,000 broken bones are caused by osteoporosis each year – that’s 1,400 per day and one every minute (1) 
  • 1 in 2 people who have broken a bone have given up sport or exercise, or reduced what they do (3)
  • 33% of people who have broken a bone see friends and relatives less often (3)
  • 49% of people who have fractured a bone have had their physical intimacy affected by their osteoporosis (3)
  • 42% of people said their osteoporosis made them feel socially isolated (3)
  • 54% of people who fractured a bone have experienced height loss or a change in their body shape (3)

Written by: Marodyne LiV.

Sources

(1) Svedbom A, Hernlund E, Ivergård M, Compston J, Cooper C, Stenmark J, McCloskey EV, Jönsson B, Kanis JA, EU Review Panel of IOF. (2013). Osteoporosis in the European Union: a compendium of country-specific reports. Archives of Osteoporosis. 8(1-2):137. 

(2) Gauthier A, Kanis JA, Jiang Y, Martin M, Compston JE, Borgstrom F, Cooper C, McCloskey EV (2011). Epidemiological burden of postmenopausal osteoporosis in the UK from 2010 to 2021: estimations from a disease model.  Archives of Osteoporosis. 6:179–88.  

(3) National Osteoporosis Society (2014). Life with Osteoporosis: the untold story.  

(4) van Staa TP, Dennison EM, Leufkens HG, Cooper C (2001). Epidemiology of fractures in England and Wales. Bone. 29(6)517-22 

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