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Can You Prevent Osteoporosis After Menopause?

Brittany Dick

Studies indicate that up to 20% of bone loss can happen during the menopause transition, leaving women vulnerable to developing a condition known as osteoporosis.1

But what exactly is osteoporosis— and is it preventable? Here we’ll take a deeper look at the relationship between menopause and osteoporosis and discuss what research says about how you can potentially prevent osteoporosis after menopause.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken and become brittle – leaving them more vulnerable for breaks and fractures.2 While osteoporosis develops gradually over time, the risks of acquiring this condition increase as bone density decreases with age.

While falling is the most common cause of breaking a bone weakened by osteoporosis, severe forms of the disease can cause an injury from simply coughing or bumping into an object.3 Additionally, many individuals are unaware they have this condition until a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break.

Common Osteoporosis Signs

While there are few symptoms that present in the early stages of this disease, later stages of osteoporosis may appear as:4, 5, 6, 7

  • Losing an inch or more in height
  • “Stooping” or change in natural posture
  • Back pain
  • Receding gums due to bone loss in jawbone
  • Weakened grip strength
  • Brittle fingernails

Osteoporosis can affect anyone, and the risk increases with age. Women who are past menopause, however, carry the greatest risk.8

Menopause and Osteoporosis – What’s the Connection?

Around 1 in 10 women over the age of 60 develop osteoporosis worldwide,9 but why?

A significant decrease in sex hormones, specifically estrogen, is a key reason postmenopausal women carry the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis.10 Research shows estrogen plays a pivotal role in not only maintaining bone structure, but also promoting cells that make new bones.11

From childhood throughout much of our adult lives, we build and maintain muscle at various levels. As estrogen levels drop with age, however, the protection our muscles offer begins to wane and leaves women more susceptible to bone loss and osteoporosis.12 Without taking preventative steps to improve bone density, bone loss during and after menopause can occur.

By age 70, bone mass decreases by between 30 and 40%.13 Fortunately, not all hope is lost for those wanting to lower their risk of bone loss. While genetics are just one component in developing this condition, there are lifestyle choices you can make to help decrease the chances of osteoporosis in the future.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

It’s never too late to lower your risk for osteoporosis and prioritize your bone health. Let’s look at some of the ways you can potentially improve your bone density after menopause.

Try to Eat Foods that Support Bone Health.

Specifically, do your best to incorporate foods high in calcium, vitamin D, and protein—three nutrients that foster bone building, growth, and support.14, 15 Foods high in each of these include:


  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, and okra
  • Canned sardines or salmon (with bones)
  • Cereals, beverages, and snacks fortified with calcium

Vitamin D17

  • Salmon, tuna, mackerel and some other types of fatty fish
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
  • Cereals fortified with vitamin D
  • Certain mushrooms
  • Egg yolk

It’s important to note that adequate vitamin D can be difficult to obtain through diet alone, so blood testing and supplementation, in addition to safe sunlight exposure can be helpful to obtaining this nutrient.18


  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beef and other meat
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds

Incorporate Exercise, Especially Strength Training

Exercise stimulates bone mass and growth. Specifically, resistance training and strength training are an effective way to not only build muscle, but to also support bone health.20

If you’re new to strength training, you may consider starting with your own body weight and then adding free weights for resistance as your body adjusts.

Some examples of strength training exercises to consider, include:21

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bicep curls
  • One-arm row
  • Bench press

Do Your Best to Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol

Studies show smoking tobacco disrupts the normal balance of bone turnover, negatively impacting bone health and increasing the risk for osteoporosis.22 If you smoke, consider taking steps to quit to better support your overall health and to better protect your bones.

It was previously thought that alcohol consumption was linked to negative impacts on bone health, however, the role of light to moderate alcohol consumption on bone mineral density is not fully understood, and additional studies need to be conducted to better understand the connection. Excess intake, however, may negatively influence fracture risk, but again, more research needs to be done to quantify this risk.23

As a precaution, it still may be a good idea to consider keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum or opting out altogether. (For reference, “moderate” alcohol consumption is classified as one drink or less per day by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.24)

When to Talk to a Healthcare Provider

No matter your age, you can take steps to protect the bone mass you currently have.

If you have noticed symptoms of osteoporosis or are concerned about bone health, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider. A physician can help to not only measure bone density, but also talk about ways to prevent and/or manage the condition.



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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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