Bones play a very important role in your overall well-being, and they work to support your body, thus allowing your muscles to walk or otherwise move around. Your bones help protect your organs, and they also store and release calcium in your body.
Calcium is a mineral that is critical to the growth and maintenance of strong and healthy bones, and it also contributes to the functioning of the cells in your body.
Keeping your bones strong and healthy is vital for preventing fractures, breakages, and certain bone disorders and diseases such as osteoporosis.
In children, weakened bones can lead to rickets, and weak bones may also interfere with a child’s growth and development.
Your bones and skeleton play several key roles in your overall system, including the following:
- Storing and supplying calcium as is necessary for all of your cells and organs to remain supported when dietary sources of calcium are inadequate
- Providing support and muscle attachments, which in turn allow you to move around and use your limbs
- Enclosing and protecting your most vital organs
- Providing space for your bone marrow, where all of your blood and blood cells are first made from
Keeping your bones healthy is critical, and maintaining a good diet can help you support your bones. However, learning more about the different components of strong and healthy bones may help you gain a new appreciation for bone health.
Gaining a better understanding of your bones and all they do for you can help you recognize the importance of taking care of your body.
Basic Bone Biology: Understanding Bones
Understanding the biology of your bones, or what composes the bones in your body, can help you better understand all of the components that make up your skeleton and allow you to go about your everyday life.
Your bones are living tissue that all have their own blood vessels and are made up of various cells, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This structure of your bones allows them to grow, transform, and repair themselves throughout your life as is necessary.
When you are born, you are bone with around 300 soft bones, and the cartilage grows during childhood and adolescence, which then turns into hard bone.
The final adult skeleton has about 206 hard bones, and this transformation from soft bone into hard bone is the main reason younger children are more prone to bone breakages and fractures.
Your bones are made up of two main types of tissue:
- Compact bone, which is also commonly referred to as cortical bone. This is the outer layer of your bone tissue, and it is solid and dense to offer some protection.
- Cancellous bone, which is sometimes also called trabecular bone. This is the spongy inner layer of your bone tissue, and it consists of a network of trabeculae that is lighter and less dense than your compact bone.
On a larger scale, your bones are comprised of the following things:
- Osteoblasts and osteocytes, which are the cells that work to form your bones
- Osteoclasts, which are bone-resorbing cells in your body
- Osteoid, which is the non-mineral, organic part of your bone matrix. This part of the bone is made up of collagen and non-collagenous proteins.
- Inorganic mineral salts that get deposited in the bone matrix. These mineral salts are what give your bones their hardness and rigidity.
Your bones are a complex system made up of all of these aspects working together, and if one of these main components becomes thrown off balance in the body, it can lead to severe consequences regarding your bone health.
What Actually is Bone Tissue?
All of this being said, it may still be confusing to figure out what exactly bone tissue really is.
Simply put, bone tissue is a type of connective tissue in your body that is made up of vertebrates, and this tissue gets hardened during a mineralization process in order to form your adult bones and skeleton.
Your bone tissue is made of a mix of both organic and inorganic components, and the tissue mainly consists of collagen fibers.
Best Nutrients for Healthy Bones
Keeping your bones mainly healthy depends on your diet and the nutrients you are taking each day. Certain nutrients are vital for strong and healthy bones, and focusing on incorporating more of these nutrients into your lifestyle may help you better support your bones.
Some of the essential nutrients for healthy bones include:
- Calcium: Getting enough calcium is essential for your bones to remain strong and rigid. If you do not get enough calcium, your body will begin to strip the calcium away from your bones to maintain optimal health.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is critical for bone health because it helps your body absorb and use calcium.
- Magnesium: Magnesium works hand in hand with calcium and vitamin D, and having proper magnesium levels can help your body regulate both calcium and vitamin D.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus aids with bone mineralization and neutralizing acids that have the potential to harm your bones.
- Potassium: Potassium can help neutralize acids in the body to protect the bones.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A can influence osteoblasts and osteoclasts, which may help build and transform bones as needed.
From this list, calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium are generally considered to be of the utmost importance for bone health, and one of these nutrients cannot work to its fullest potential unless you also have adequate amounts of the two other nutrients as well.
What Impacts Bone Health?
Many different factors can influence your bone health, and becoming familiar with these factors may help you alter your lifestyle or routines in order to be kinder to your bones.
All of the following factors can impact your bone health:
- The amount of calcium and other essential nutrients in your diet
- Your level of physical activity
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Biological sex
- Body mass index
- Family medical history
- Hormone levels
- Eating disorders and other health conditions
- Certain medications
Following a generally healthy lifestyle by limiting your use of tobacco and alcohol, getting enough exercise, and eating a healthy and balanced diet with various whole foods can help you maintain strong and healthy bones.
You may be at a higher risk of experiencing bone breakages if you have a family history of health conditions. And, if you suspect that you may be having issues with your bone health, you should consult your doctor promptly for professional advice.
Your doctor will be able to work with you to determine whether or not you need to be concerned about your bones, and if there is cause for concern, your doctor might recommend specific supplements that can help improve the state of your bones.
You should always consult your doctor before you start taking any new vitamins or supplements, as your doctor will be able to advise you regarding the appropriate dose for your situation. Some nutrients can cause dangerous effects if taken in excess, so it is always best to get your doctor’s opinion.
If necessary, your doctor may perform specific tests or refer you to a bone specialist to get further information about your bone health. Anytime you have questions or concerns, you should speak with your doctor for clarification.
The Bottom Line
Your bones are a critical part of your quality of life and overall health, and they offer plenty of support for your body while protecting your organs and allowing you to use your muscles and limbs to move around.
When you are a child, your bones are soft tissue, but they harden as you grow older. Hard and rigid bones are less prone to breakage, whereas soft bones may break more easily.
Calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium are just a few of the nutrients that contribute to strong and healthy bone tissue, and eating a healthy diet full of whole foods can help ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need. If you struggle to keep your bones healthy, your doctor may recommend that you take certain supplements in order to help prevent bone disorders such as osteoporosis.
People with a family history of bone disorders may be at an increased risk, and you should consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your own medical history or bone health.