4 Conversations Young Women Should Have With Their Doctors About Bone Health

One of the best things you can do to support your health is having routine examinations by your medical provider. Routine examinations are our first line of defense against detecting abnormalities and our opportunity to address overall health questions or concerns we have.

Whether you have a medical concern or not, hopefully you are visiting your health care provider routinely to make sure that your health is in-check. And hopefully your provider is treating you holistically and is discussing your bone health, especially when you are younger.  

If your doctor is not proactively mentioning bone health, it is a topic that you should discuss to make sure that you are doing everything you can should be doing to support your bone health. We think we’re going to be young forever but overtime your body changes. Having these lifestyle interventions early can help you have a healthier life and a better quality of life. The key is to not wait until there is a problem to fix them and so being proactive is critical. It is important to know if you are at-risk of developing osteoporosis should make a bone health discussion top-priority, even if you are not having any health issues.

Some factors that make a person more at-risk to developing weak bones or osteoporosis include:

  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Being treated for certain cancers, including breast cancer
  • Being treated for Metastatic cancer
  • Eating a limited diet that is not rich in bone-building minerals
  • Having an eating disorder
  • Having a history of gastric bypass surgery
  • Having a diagnosis of Celiac Disease
  • Consuming excessive alcohol
  • Being underweight

Conversations to have about bone health

Especially if you fall under the “at risk” category, bone health should be a topic of conversation at all doctor’s appointments. If your provider is not bringing it up, here are some ideas surrounding how you should be addressing this concern.

  1. What things should I change in my diet/ What supplementation do I need?

Dietary intake of nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin K2, magnesium, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin C, boron, and many other nutrients play a key role in bone health. If you have concerns about your dietary intake and you are not eating a balanced and varied diet, you may have gaps in your nutrition needs.

When discussing your current diet, your provider may find opportunity to make your diet more bone-friendly. A registered dietitian can help too. If you are unable to meet your nutrition needs through food choices, dietary supplements can be explored with your provider to find the best plan of care.

2. What exercises are good for my bone health?

Weight bearing exercise is an important lifestyle habit to practice when focusing on bone health. But if you can’t do your weight lifting or power walking due to a long-term injury, pain, or other challenge, this should be discussed during a healthcare visit. Weight-bearing exercises have been shown to support bone health, so if you can’t participate in traditional options, your provider will help come up with a plan “b” so your bones won’t suffer.  Find fitness activities you love, become part of a fitness community, get have a fitness buddy or join our Pure Cat Initiative and take a class with a Tiger Lilly Instructor.  You are more likely to stick to a program when you are having fun and it becomes something you look forward too.

3. Should I minimize cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and caffeine dependency?

Smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and including caffeine into your diet in large amounts can negatively affect your bone health. If you are committed to keeping your bones strong in the long-run, partaking in these habits should be avoided.

In some cases, quitting smoking or drinking alcohol is easier said than done. Proactively discussing any concerns, you may have about quitting any of these habits will present an opportunity to create an action plan with an expert so you can find success.

4. What are my treatments doing to my bones?

If you are undergoing breast cancer treatments, know that breast cancer patients are at a greater risk of having bone problems. It is important to select your treatment with your health care provider taking your medical history and genetics into account.

Factors to consider include:

-risk for kidney failure (Black women are at a higher risk of kidney failure – a side effect of taking certain medications)

– high blood pressure drugs in addition to certain breast cancer treatments could increase one’s risk of kidney failure

Your health care provider will be the best person to help guide you through the decision-making process.

The Bottom Line

You should be having conversations about your bone health starting at a young age. Being proactive about these discussions is necessary, especially if undergoing cancer treatments. Supporting strong bones is important at every stage of life, and using a medical expert as a guide can help you keep your skeleton in the best state possible. Don’t wait until you’re older to start taking care of your body. Often times your treatment outcomes is determined by the way you treat your body, so get started now!

Let’s get you back on to the main Love your Bones Page so you begin learn more about how to love your bones through Food, Fitness and Focus.