Menopause and Osteoporosis: How to Manage Bone Health After 40

Discover the link between menopause and osteoporosis so you can have informed conversations with your physician

Tania Sultana
By Tania Sultana
Jovan Mijailovic
Edited by Jovan Mijailovic

Published March 6, 2024.

A woman sitting on a couch talking to a doctor.

Menopause is a natural milestone for women, occurring in their late 40s to early 50s. It ends menstrual periods and reduces reproductive hormone production. It also impacts bone health.

Women lose 20% of bone density during the first five years after menopause, which may cause osteoporosis. [1] It's the most prevalent disease in menopausal women and is strongly associated with low quality of life.

Osteoporosis reduces bone mass and causes deterioration. This leads to fragile bones and an increased possibility of fractures.

Osteoporosis becomes more common the older you are, starting from a rate of 3.3% among individuals aged 45-49 to 50.3% among those aged 85 and above. [2]

The decline in estrogen levels decreases calcitonin effects, which is a hormone that regulates calcium levels by decreasing them. This causes the parathyroid hormone to largely increase, worsening bone density loss.

How does estrogen affect bone density?

The decline in estrogen production disrupts bone balance, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially in the spine and hip's trabecular bone. [3]

Calcium intake and bone health

Calcium is a fundamental bone mineral essential that maintains your bone density during and after menopause.

Does calcium increase bone density?

It doesn't significantly increase bone density above your genetic predisposition, but it preserves your bone health.

To optimize calcium's effectiveness, combine it with vitamin D, as it enhances its absorption.

As a consensus opinion from the North American Menopause Society shows, you should aim for a daily calcium intake of at least 1,200 mg, with dietary sources like dairy, leafy greens, and fortified foods being valuable. [4]

About 30% of women in menopause face osteoporosis. [5] This makes it crucial for menopausal women to take extra care of their bone health.

Awareness of the connection between menopause and bone health leads to informed healthcare decisions. It prompts women to seek bone density assessments and adopt personalized interventions to protect their skeletal health.

When do bones stop growing in females?

In females, bone growth in terms of length generally stops in the late teens to early twenties, a process known as epiphyseal closure.

However, bone density continues to increase, peaking around 30.

Bone density, weight, and overall well-being

The changes in bone density don't usually cause significant weight loss or gain, but those in muscle and fat mass do.

When it comes to bone density, a T-score is a numerical value that compares your bone density to the average bone density of a healthy young adult population. This metric is essential in bone density testing, and it is usually determined through a Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry scan.

What is a good T score for bone density?

A good T-score is between +1 and -1. This means that your bone density is similar to the average measured among healthy young adults

How to prevent osteoporosis after menopause?

Keeping our bones healthy is vital for our overall health. A balanced diet and regular exercise are crucial in maintaining strong bones, which in turn support our muscles and keep our body in shape. [6]

If you're looking to build your bone density and prevent osteoporosis, consider adopting these strategies:

  • Dietary adjustments: Incorporate calcium and vitamin D-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, fortified foods, and supplements. Maintain a balanced diet with adequate protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding excessive salt and caffeine.
  • Regular exercise: Do weight-lifting, resistance, and cardio exercises regularly like walking, dancing, lifting weights, and resistance training.
  • Limiting alcohol and tobacco: Quit or minimize smoking and drinking since it can weaken your bones. [6]
  • Medication evaluation: Certain drugs can contribute to bone loss, so consult your physician.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): If you have severe menopausal symptoms, consider HRT to mitigate bone loss

» Learn more about how nutrient needs change with age

Embracing the transition: Safeguarding bone health

Menopause is a significant phase in a woman's life that brings about various physiological changes, with one of the most notable being its impact on bone health. Hormonal fluctuations that occur as the result are a primary link to osteoporosis.

Awareness of this connection is the first step toward proactive management. Inform yourself about hormone levels using InsideTracker. It can help you optimize your muscle and bone health, fitness performance, and longevity.

Inside Tracker doesn't provide medical diagnoses. If you have any medical concerns, please visit a qualified healthcare professional.