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Boost Your Bone Health

In Your 50s

In the 5 to 10 years right after menopause bone loss is rapid. It's estimated that postmenopausal women lose up to 3% of their bone mass every year. Eating right and getting plenty of exercise remains of the utmost importance.

Nutrition tips:

Take even more calcium. When women enter menopause their intestines no longer absorb calcium as well as they used to. Why? Menopause brings on a decrease in estrogen, which is needed to help with the absorption process. It's recommended that women over 50 get a whopping 1,500mg of calcium a day. So consider taking a supplement three, rather than two, times daily.

Swap in soy. While the benefits of soy are still widely debated, research indicates that soy produces positive estrogen-like effects in some women, resulting in stronger bones—and fewer hot flashes. Soy milk and tofu are rich in calcium and often have added D, which, in addition to benefiting the skeleton, may also blunt menopause symptoms. So go for a soy burger instead of a hamburger or grab a handful of soy nuts rather than peanuts. You'll get the additional bonus of lowering your cholesterol.

Skip the cod liver. Many doctors recommend cod liver oil supplements to their patients, but few women listen, says Dr. Thacker. While the oil is a great source of vitamin D, something that women need even more of as they age, you can get your daily dose through food sources. Check your supermarket's produce section for irradiated mushrooms, which are safe and have extra D due to ultraviolet light exposure. Venison is another vitamin-D-packed lean choice. Research shows that women who take in extra vitamin D are less apt to suffer a break from falling than those who do not—plus the vitamin reduces cancer rates by up to 70%.