Bones are responsible for supporting and moving us. Bones form a structure or frame for the body. Our bones form our skeletal system. Bones protect vital organs viz heart, brain lungs, eyes, etc. from injury. The joints and bones along with muscles and other parts of the skeletal system make walking, running, bending climbing, etc possible for us. The health of our bones is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of our body.
Some random interesting facts about our bones are as under:
- There are 206 bones in an adult body
- A child is born with around 300 bones; as it grows the bones get fused and are reduced in number
- Half of our bones are in our hands and feet
- The largest bone in our thigh called the femur
- The smallest bone is in our ears
- Bones store minerals viz calcium and phosphorus – and provide the body with when these minerals are needed
- Bones are responsible for the production of RBCs and WBCs and supplying to the body
- Bone marrow, which is a spongy substance in the center of bones manufactures RBCs and WBCs and is responsible for very important bodily functions; it has stems cells that are involved in producing other cells for the body
- We need calcium and vitamin D for our bone health
- Our bones and joints allow our body to have different movements
- Our bones are changing constantly; the process of wear and tear and the making of bones is continued
- At an early age, our bones grow faster, as we grow older the process slows down
- Most of us experience breaking/fracture of bones; but they start repairing themselves, bone cells are produced to heal the bones which are fractured; the cast only helps in protection from jerks and pains and keeps the growth straight
- We all have 12 ribs but rarely do some people have 13 ribs
- The knee joint is the largest joint in the human body
- The strength of the bones diminishes with age
What are the reasons for poor bone health?
Apart from the deficiency of necessary nutrients as discussed above, there may be other reasons too that negatively impact the health of bones.
- Bone health issues faced or being faced by any family member(s) bring other family members also in the vulnerable zone for bone problems
- Bone issues are also experienced as a result of some long-term use of steroids, anti-depression medicines, etc.
- Smoking is found to be linked with osteoporosis
- The prevalence of bone diseases is found comparatively more in white men
- Excessive Alcohol is also linked to impacting the bone health
- Persons having less bone mass e.g. thin persons are more vulnerable to bone problems
This is a disease where our bones become weak. The bone density reduces and these get brittle. In the case of osteoporosis, even a little fall can cause the bone to break. In some cases, even extra bending and severe coughing can lead to fractures. Some of the body parts viz hip and spine are more vulnerable to fractures in osteoporosis.
It is to be understood that bones are also living tissues and are constantly renewed. When the pace of production of new bone tissues is less than the bone tissue which is dying there is a deficit that results in the gradual weakening and erosion of bones. It has been observed that this disease is more prevalent in Asian women and white men. But we all are susceptible to it.
It’s a slow-occurring disease that does not show acute symptoms in the beginning. However, when the condition reaches its disease stage the bones fracture easily, and the patient may become shortened and find difficulty in maintaining the posture.
How can we ensure the good health of our bones?
Other than cases of any genetic conditions, a lot can be done to avoid any bone issues.
The following steps are found to be very useful in maintaining good bone health and combat malfunctioning which are attributable to them:
Minerals: Calcium, Zinc, and Magnesium
Calcium is very greatly responsible for healthy bones. It is the single most mineral that can alter the bone health equation, so include calcium in your every meal. The recommended requirement is 1000 mg per day however the calcium requirement for children in their teenage is around 1300 mg. Women getting old have more need for calcium which is recommended at 1200 mg per day.
Further like any other nutrient, the case of calcium is no different inasmuch as its absorption is concerned; what your body absorbs is more important than your intake. The body has its limit to absorbing calcium at any given time. So loading up yourself with higher-than-absorbable calcium may not be good for the body. So we need to spread the intake of calcium throughout the day so as to get better results. Definitely, dietary calcium is way better than supplements.
Calcium is found in good quantity in green leafy vegetables, certain fish, nuts, dairy products along with soy products
Another mineral that also plays role in having and maintaining good bone health and good bone density is Zinc. Especially growing children should have an adequate amount of zinc. Though it is not needed in large amounts however its importance cannot be undermined just by its needed quantum. It essentially contributes to forming of bone. It also helps in stalling the wear and tear of bones. Zinc is found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, and some fish.
Yet another mineral playing a very important role in bone health is Magnesium. Its presence helps in the absorption of calcium. Green leafy vegetables, bananas, nuts, seeds, tofu, and avocado are rich vegetarian sources of magnesium. It is also found in some fish.
There is an epidemic of deficiency of vitamin D worldwide. A very large number of people across the globe are being prescribed vitamin D and vitamin B. We can certainly avoid the need for any such supplements by right food choices.
The role of vitamin D in ensuring bone health is of utmost importance. The density of bones is also dependent upon vitamin D in the body. It is also essential for the absorption of calcium by our bodies. Lower vitamin D leads to bone diseases including osteoporosis and osteopenia.
An adult person is recommended to take 600 IUs of vitamin D every day. Older people have an increased need for vitamin D.
Sunlight can provide us with enough Vitamin D. Dairy products, viz mushrooms, egg yolk, Cod liver oil, and certain fishes are found to be rich in Vitamin D.
The role of vitamin K in ensuring bone health is no less. It helps in the retention of calcium by bones.
Balanced diet: A diet having all the necessary nutrients is very helpful in good bone health by keeping the bone cells in adequate number. Particularly, a diet rich in vitamin C essentially prevents damage to bone cells. Good bone mass is ensured by the liberal intake of vegetables at an early age. Proteins and Omega 3 are very important for a healthy skeletal system.
Regular exercise and body weight exercises help in providing strength to the bones and having optimum bone mineral density.
Thus, awareness about bone health can lead to freedom from any possible affliction and we can take recourse to the lifestyle and dietary habits which contribute to good bone health.