One of the challenges women face as we go through the menopausal transition is maintaining our height. We actually start losing slightly less than half-an-inch every 10 years after we reach the age of 40 and ultimately can lose up to three inches of our stature as we age.
It turns out that our loss of height during this time period is often due to vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis. Additionally, our changing hormones also may cause our spines to lose height between the intervertebral discs.
So what can you do to protect your height? Here are some suggestions:
- Eat a bone-healthy diet. Be sure to eat a wide-ranging diet that includes low-fat and non-fat dairy products, canned sardines and salmon with bones, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines), collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, beet greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens, raisins, papaya, oranges, orange juice, bananas, prunes, red peppers, green peppers, grapefruits, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, pineapple, and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol disrupts your calcium balance and ability to produce vitamin D. Having too much to drink also increases parathyroid hormone levels, which reduces your body’s reserve of calcium. It also causes hormone deficiencies, including cortisol, which decreases bone formation and increases the breakdown of bones.
- Exercise. Posture exercises such as head presses and standing back bends can prevent kyphosis, which causes you to become stooped or hunched. When you have this condition, your back becomes stiff and difficult to straighten. This video also offers some other middle-back exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAv1oLk_XGM*** Hormone replacement therapy.** A 2005 study found that HRT may protect total disc height by helping intervertebral discs maintain their shape and function, thus minimizing the vertical forces that can threaten the spine’s architecture. However, please realize that HRT offers other dangers to your health so it’s best to work with your doctor to take the lowest dosage for the shortest period of time.
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Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Agins, T. (2015). Ask Teri: Columnist Teri Agins Answers Readers’ Fashion Questions. Wall Street Journal.
Baron, Y.M., et al. (2005). Intervertebral Disc Height in Treated and Untreated Overweight Post-Menopausal Women. Human Reproduction.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. (ND). Food and Your Bones.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. (ND). Posture Exercises.
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. (2012). What People Recovering from Alcoholism Need to Know About Osteoporosis.