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Building Strong Bones and Preventing Osteoporosis
Most cases of osteoporosis could be prevented. Bone is a living tissue that is constantly breaking down and rebuilding itself. Bone health depends on routine weight-bearing exercise, healthy habits (no smoking, moderate consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, etc.) and an intricate interplay of more than a dozen nutrients. Children who consume a typical Western diet deficient in nutrients are setting the stage for the onset of osteoporosis.
Few 12- to 19-year-olds consume the recommended amounts of certain nutrients. Adolescent girls consume only 14% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium, 31% of vitamin A and only 18% of the RDA for magnesium. Teenage boys aren’t much better.
Soft drinks, which now make up a third of a teenager’s daily beverage intake, deplete bone-building calcium. Girls in ninth and tenth grade who drink soft drinks have three times the risk of bone fractures compared to those who do not drink carbonated beverages.
Fifty-six percent of 8-year-olds consume soda daily, and one-third of teens consume three or more cans of soda per day. The average teenager gets 20 teaspoons of sugar a day from soft drinks alone. Teens get 44% of their 34 teaspoons of sugar a day from soft drinks. Teenage girls get 40% of their 24 teaspoons of sugar from soft drinks. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that people eating 2,200 calories a day eat no more than 12 teaspoons of refined sugar a day. Sugar consumption disrupts the natural homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Normally, these minerals exist in a precise ratio of ten to four.
Excess serum calcium, which comes from bones and teeth, cannot be fully utilized because phosphorus levels are too low. Calcium is excreted in the urine or stored in abnormal deposits such as kidney and gallstones. High fructose corn, which is the predominant sugar in soft drinks, inhibits copper metabolism. A copper deficiency causes brittle bones as well as many other unwanted health conditions.
Other research suggests that high-fructose corn syrup, which has risen from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001, disrupts the body’s magnesium balance, which in turn accelerates bone loss An optimal level of magnesium, which helps calcium absorption, is essential for bone formation. Studies have found that magnesium deficiency is associated with osteoporosis and bone fragility and that adequate magnesium intake results in increased bone mineral density.
The latest government study shows that a staggering 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Even more alarming are the data from this study showing that 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the government’s recommended daily intake of magnesium.
In contrast to the normal nutrient-depleted “Western diet,” research shows that consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables, offers considerable protection against osteoporosis. These foods are a rich source of bone-building vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, boron and vitamin K. Vitamin K helps facilitate the production of osteocalcin, the main non-collagen protein in bones . Osteocalcin keeps calcium molecules anchored in bone. Boron supplementation has been shown to reduce urinary calcium excretion by 44 percent. It is also required to activate certain hormones important for bone building such as vitamin D and 17-beta-estradiol, the most active form of estrogen.
Of course, most kids won’t go near a green leafy vegetable. And adults aren’t much better. Fewer than 10 percent of Americans eat the minimum recommendation of two servings of fruits and vegetables per day. And worse, only 51 percent eat at least one vegetable a day. Unfortunately, most people are setting themselves up for trouble.
Calcium intake is the cornerstone of osteoporosis prevention. Several studies have shown that calcium can reduce bone loss and suppress bone turnover. However, calcium supplementation alone does not stop bone loss completely, but instead reduces calcium excretion by 30-50 percent. One study shows that postmenopausal women who took one gram of elemental calcium were four and a half times less likely to fracture than those who took a placebo.
Calcium absorption depends on stomach acid for ionization. Because stomach acid facilitates the absorption of ingested insoluble calcium, stomach acid-reducing drugs such as Tums, Zantac, Nexium, Pepcid, Prilosec, and Tagament increase the risk of bone loss.
Studies show that the risk of hip fracture is directly related to the duration of proton pump and antacid drugs, ranging from 22% for 1 year of use to 59% for 4 years of use , in relation to non-use.
You should know that corticosteroids and most diuretics (Lasix, Dyazide, Maxzide and others) also deplete calcium. Vitamin D, a hormone-like substance, is crucial for calcium absorption. The skin produces vitamin D after exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation, and vitamin D deficiency is widespread in the United States. In winter vitamin D levels often plummet. It found that less than 10% of adults aged 50 to 70, and only 2% of people over 70, got the recommended amounts of vitamin D from food. Even when supplements were added, only 30% of people aged 50 to 70 and 10% of those over 70 were meeting the recommended intake of vitamin D.
How much vitamin D does the average person need? In the summer, people with at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on their skin most days should take 1,000 mg of vitamin D3 each day. In winter, those with dark skin, or those with little sun exposure on their skin, should take up to 4,000 mg each day. Tailor your vitamin D3 supplementation to your lifestyle: Those who have darker skin, are older, avoid sun exposure, or live in the northern United States should take the highest amounts.
Vitamin D is remarkably safe; there have been no deaths caused by vitamin D. A blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D is currently the gold standard for accessing vitamin D levels. Ideally, patients should have vitamin D levels tested D in blood at or near 50 ng/ml. If it is more than 10% below this level, supplemental sources of vitamin D3 should definitely be increased. People who consume only the government-recommended levels of 200-400 IU/day often have blood levels well below 50 ng/ml. This means that the RDA recommendations are too low and should be considered based on the latest research.
Until recently, hormone replacement therapy was considered the best way to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. However, the benefits must be weighed against recent evidence linking conventional estrogen replacement therapy with an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart attack and blood clots. In 2002, the results of the Women’s Health Initiative were published in advance. This landmark study followed more than 16,000 women and evaluated the effects of conventional HRT (hormone replacement therapy), including estrogen-only therapy and therapy that combined estrogen and synthetic progestin. The findings were surprising and somewhat surprising; Not only did hormone therapy not protect against heart disease, it was also shown to increase the risk of heart attack and breast cancer.
And long-term conventional or synthetic HRT also increases the risk of uterine cancer. Potential side effects of synthetic HRT include weight gain, premenstrual symptoms such as depression, and breast swelling and tenderness. In 2004, the estrogen-only arm of the study was also discontinued because estrogen-only HRT was found to increase the risk of stroke Needless to say, the findings sounded the alarm and caused millions of women using HRT (up to 70%) to discontinue their HRT therapy.
Several studies show that progesterone stimulates the proliferation of osteoblast cells that build bones. Without any doubt. Of course, like synthetic estrogens, progestins (synthetic progesterone) are associated with numerous potentially dangerous side effects.
Based on the pioneering work of John Lee, MD, thousands of women have safely used Compound Progesterone Cream (from wild yams) to reduce menopausal symptoms, prevent bone loss, and reverse osteoporosis. However, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which uses estrogen and/or progestin compounded from wild yam, is probably a safer option for synthetic HRT, the long-term results of which are not yet fully known.
Another option, certainly safer, is to use phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds found in certain foods, including fennel, celery, soybeans, nuts, whole grains, apples, and alfalfa. A semi-synthetic isoflavanoid, known as ipriflavone, has a structure similar to that of soy and has been approved for the prevention of osteoporosis in Japan, Hungary and Italy. Studies show that ipriflavone, now available as a supplement in the US, increases bone density in people with osteoporosis.
People who want to avoid osteoporosis would be wise to eat more fruits and vegetables, maintain a consistent exercise program, avoid sodas, avoid health-robbing habits (smoking, excess alcohol, and sugar), and take a good optimal daily amount of multivitamins. Those women who want to reverse bone loss should take, in addition to their multivitamin, additional calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and one or more of the adjunctive treatments listed above (ipriflavone and natural progesterone).
But, we must realize that good health does not come from a bottle of pills, but from daily dietary choices made throughout life. I think I’ll have a green salad with dinner tonight, what about you?
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