One of the most notable issues facing athletic women is bone loss due to amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual cycles (no more than one period in the last 6 months). Athletic amenorrhea has been classified as secondary amenorrhea, which means menstrual cycles were existent, but a secondary circumstance such as exercise precipitated the loss of the cycle.
Athletic amenorrhea has been associated with bone loss, especially in the lumbar region of the spine. Athletes in their 20s have frequently exhibited lumbar bone age of someone in their 50s. During adolescence female athletes with irregular menses have been found to have lower peak bone mass formation.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
This can lead to osteoporosis in young women and has also been associated with increased incidence of stress fractures and scoliosis. As the number of women involved in athletics continues to rise, healthcare professionals are noticing an increase in several sports-related injuries and ailments.
Amenorrhea is a serious health condition that can result in irreversible bone loss and devastating long-term health consequences. If you are an athlete who has stopped having regular periods, don’t ignore it. By addressing and treating amenorrhea early, you may prevent the loss of bone and avoid serious fractures as you age.
There are many causes of amenorrhea, but for athletes, stopping your period is a warning sign that the body is under too much stress and has too little energy stores to support healthy functioning. Experts speculate that a woman stops ovulating and menstruating to protect against pregnancy during extreme physiological stress, and to use any available energy to support her basic physiological processes.
Intense exercise and extremely low body weight have also been linked with lower levels of estrogen, which is necessary to maintain healthy bones. Just as it is important to understand a condition, it is equally or more important to know how to avoid or correct the problem. Let’s take a look at the minerals needed.
Calcium is known for its involvement in bone formation. It has been found that calcium supplements alone have not been entirely successful for repletion of bone loss; and other nutritional factors are necessary for proper calcium utilization. We get plenty of calcium from various sources, and it is the least important in the chain of nutrients needed to re-mineralize the body.
In order to adequately utilize the calcium available, the body needs magnesium, boron, copper, and manganese. The one mineral that is little known and even less talked about that plays a vital role in re-mineralization in secondary amenorrhea is Boron. For the purposes of this article we are focusing on this mineral.
Boron helps in the metabolism of minerals that are involved in bone development such as calcium, magnesium and copper. Dr. Robert Garrison, Jr. says of Boron, “This trace mineral plays a role in calcium and bone metabolism, possibly preventing bone loss associated with osteoporosis.”
The bone building capacities of boron are often eclipsed by the information overload on calcium.
Boron works in unison with calcium and magnesium to strengthen bones. Boron improves the production of estrogen. “Boron may work by activating certain hormones, Dr. Hunt Says. In postmenopausal women, adequate boron raised blood levels of both estrogen and testosterone. It may also help in converting vitamin D to its active form.”
Studies suggest that boron repletion caused beneficial changes in bone and mineral metabolism similar to estrogen therapy.
These studies were on boron deprivation, repletion, and bone metabolism. Boron interacts with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium, which are important to bone metabolism. Boron accumulates in bone in amounts in levels that depend on the amount of boron consumed.
If you know someone who is suffering from Athletic Amenorrhea you may want to share this article with them and suggest supplementation of boron along with other vitamins and minerals. Remember the boron!
1. Robert Garrison, Jr., M.A., R.Ph. & Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., The Nutrition Desk Reference, Third Edition, (Keats Publishing, Inc., 1995), pg. 223.
2. The Editors of Prevention Health Books, Healing with Vitamins, (RodalePress, Inc., 1996) page 27.