Friday, January 28, 2011

Osteoporosis: The "Silent Killer" of Women

I love milk, ice cream, cheese and other dairy products.

I used to be a ballet dancer in my younger days and am presently a yogini, doing weight-bearing exercises which are good for building body mass and bones.

And yet, I have been diagnosed to be osteopenic (at risk of osteoporosis).

Time and again, when there are bone density tests at malls or at blogger events, I go for a test (silently hoping that one of these scans will prove all the past ones wrong -- that I have healthy bones). And yet, every test continues to show that I have osteopenia.

How could this happen?

First, my dairy intake slowed down when I started becoming lactose intolerant. I used to drink milk in the morning before going off to work but that was replaced by coffee when I dared not drink milk before commuting for fear of wanting to go to the bathroom before I got to my office. Of course, coffee as a replacement was really not a substitute because there is a connection between caffeine intake and osteopenia. Coffee is a diuretic and the caffeine in it increases the amount of calcium excreted with our urine for several hours after drinking it. So without appropriate replacement or intake of calcium, bone loss results over time.

Second, I have gone through five pregnancies (though one was a miscarriage) and every time a woman becomes pregnant, the demands placed on her body by a growing baby also affect her bone density. There is increasing demand for maternal bone before childbirth and after childbirth, the act of breastfeeding puts a mother in a hypoestrogenic (low estrogen) state.

Third, as one approaches the menopausal state, bone loss accelerates even more as the body produces less and less estrogen, the hormone that protects bones.

Fourth, just being a female places me at greater risk as studies show that women lose bone density faster than men.

At a recent Anlene event, I learned about the ideal daily calcium intake for women. Women between the ages of 25 and 50 years should aim for 750mg of calcium while those who are older, pregnant or lactating should aim for a higher calcium level daily. I also found that taking calcium alone is not a solution; one needs Vitamin D so that the calcium consumed will be absorbed by the body. So, the real answer to prevent osteoporosis is the right amount of calcium + Vit. D.

So, why is osteoporosis a "silent killer" of women?

It kills not just physically but more than that, it can also kill one's spirit and lifestyle. Just imagine an active woman who is used to walking by herself and doing things she loves to do. Imagine the same woman suffering a hip fracture that confines her to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Gone is her independence. She has to depend on others even for simple things like going to the bathroom or even just opening a door. Her lifestyle is crimped because there are limitations to what she can now do. Your whole life just makes a 180-degree turn once osteoporosis hits and your bones become brittle and at risk of breaking.

Anlene now has a new Ambasadress and I must say, she is the epitome of what a woman with great bones and muscles should be. She's no other than Sec. Pia Cayetano, who is not only an amazing woman-senator but is also known as a triathlete.

Sen. Pia Cayetano with Anlene officers and Karen Davila (event emcee)

Sen. Pia told us that her favorite sport was the Ironman Triathlon. For many of you who don't know what that entails, a triathlete participating in this event has to complete a 4k swim, a 108k bike, and a 42k marathon. Whew!!! May I now call her IRONWOMAN?

I now always have Anlene at home. Whenever I remember, I spike my morning coffee with Anlene as my dairy creamer. At the very least, even if I can't do away with coffee yet, at least I am taking in some replacement calcium.

But you know what's new in the Anlene product line and which is the perfect Anlene product for me? This...Anlene Concentrate...

Anlene Concentrate (front)
Anlene Concentrate (back)
This was what excited me. Look at the nutritional content of this tiny, 125ml tetrapak. It's loaded with 650mg of calcium! In the past, although I'd take Anlene, I'd need several tablespoons of the powder to mix so I get my daily requirement. But I'd still be lactose intolerant for several hours afterwards. Now, this tiny pack gives me the same 650 mg of calcium MINUS the lactose intolerance. At the event, I was initially hesitant to try it (they were distributing the milk packs for us to try for free) but when I eventually did, guess what. My tummy did not do a revolution. Yay!

I know a lot of you out there are as lactose intolerant as I am. Now, we need not fret about it.

Let's be more conscious about our calcium intake so we don't become an unwilling victim of osteoporosis. Now that I know I'm osteopenic, I have resolved even more never to let go of my yoga, being more conscious of calcium-rich food, and of course, taking my Anlene.

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