Study: Hot Flashes May Be Warning Sign of Low Bone Density

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Seems like many of my friends are battling hot flashes – and a recent report indicates they also may be fighting off low bone density. According to “What Your Hot Flashes May Be Telling You” in the October 2009 issue of More magazine, a new study by University of California-Los Angeles researchers suggests that women who have hot flashes may be more likely to experience lower bone density. The researchers theorize that stress hormones may be a factor in both hot flashes and bone weakening. The study is published in the journal, Menopause.

    The UCLA researchers noted that women who had hot flashes in the study had not developed osteoporosis at that point and should focus on prevention. Daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D are critical. Women over 50 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 800-1,000 International Units of vitamin D, while women who are under the age of 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400-800 International Units of vitamin D.

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    One way is to focus on adding calcium and Vitamin D foods to your diet. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), sources of calcium-rich foods include:

    -    Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with calcium, 1 cup – between 100-1000 mg
    -    Fortified oatmeal, 1 packet – 350 mg
    -    Sardines, canned in oil with edible bones, 3 oz – 324 mg
    -    Cheddar cheese, 1-1/2 ox shredded – 306 mg
    -    Milk, nonfat, 1 cup – 302 mg.
    -    Milkshake, 1 cup – 300 mg
    -    Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup – 300 mg
    -    Soybeans, cooked, 1 cup – 261 mg
    -    Tofu, firm with calcium, ½ cup – 204 mg
    -    Orange juice, fortified with calcium, 6 oz – between 200-260 mg.

    Experts also recommend a daily intake of 400-600 International Units of vitamin D, either through supplements or diet. Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk. In addition, you can get Vitamin D from spending 15 minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen.

    Lifestyle also plays a factor in osteoporosis prevention. The UCLA researchers recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing impact exercise regularly each week as well as resistance exercise 2-3 times weekly. NIAMS notes that the best exercises for the bones include weight-lifting, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing; swimming and biking, while great for cardiovascular health, do not promote bone health. Additionally, the National Osteoporosis Foundation encourages women to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.

    To learn more about osteoporosis, visit our Osteoporosis site. Here you can find a ton of information about osteoporosis, how to prevent it, how to treat it, and support from a great community.


    The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has also created a Bone Tool Kit, which emphasizes important issues for diverse audiences. The kit provides an overview, information about medications and treatment, as well as tailored information for African American women, Asian women, Caucasian women, Latinas, men, women ages 20-40, and teens. The downloadable guides are available in both English and Spanish.

  • The way to determine if you are having bone loss is to have a bone density test. To determine if you should be tested, offers four statements to consider:

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    -    You have symptoms that suggest osteoporosis, such as bone fractures or loss of height.
    -    You’re beginning hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other treatments for your bones. Or you’re planning to stop HRT.
    -    You have significant risk factors other than being a woman.
    -    You’re in perimenopause or menopause.


    Answering “yes” to any of these statements indicates you should talk to your doctor about being tested. These tests are safe, painless, quick and precise, according to However, these tests may not be covered by insurance and are underutilized by doctors. “As a result, less than 10 percent of people with significant bone loss are aware of their problem,” noted.

    Based on this information, I’d encourage women who experience regular hot flashes to talk to their doctor about getting tested. I’d also encourage them to review their diet, exercise regimen and lifestyle decisions so that the choices they make can provide additional support to their bones – so their bones can continue to support them during a long, happy and healthy life.

Published On: February 23, 2010