The importance of calcium for menopause

Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by decrease bone mass and deterioration in the microarchitecture of bone tissue, without changes in the ratio between the mineral and non-mineral phase of the matrix, leading to an increase in bone fragility and a consequent increase in the risk of fracture.

The need for a nutrient-rich diet persist even after growth has ceased. This is because the body in considerable amounts loses calcium daily. If this loss is not compensate by an amount consumed via food, the body breaks down units of the bone structure in order to provide calcium for the circulation.

With the arrival of menopause, there is a great reduction in the production of hormones (mainly estrogen) that acts as calcium regulators in the bones. During this period, it is quite common for a woman to lose 1 to 2% of bone mass per year. Estrogen is totally related to the absorption of calcium by the intestine, due to the low production of calcitocin, a hormone that inhibits bone demineralization.

It is extremely important that after menopause, women adopt some habits that can minimize the occurrence and prevalence of fracture risks resulting from reduced bone mass. Ideally, the woman should look for a specialist doctor for hormone replacement. In addition, other habits can be acquire:

- Diet rich in foods with calcium: The consumption of foods rich in calcium guarantees the ingestion of the mineral responsible for the bone structure. When it is not possible to acquire good amounts with food, supplementation with calcium and other minerals is recommend.

- Frequent exposure to the sun: The body with frequent sun exposure better absorbs Vitamin D. Vitamin D improves and ensures good levels of calcium absorption in our intestines.

- Regular practice of physical activity: Regular physical activity keeps bones strong and aids mobility and flexibility. It is an important activity to prevent falls and consequent fractures.

- Avoid the excess of processed foods rich in phosphates: Phosphate leads to increase in parathyroid hormone excretion and has an inhibiting effect on bone formation.

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Author: GISELE C. MACHADO - Food Engineer

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