Bone is a living, connective tissue that is string and durable. It is mainly composed of calcium salts and collagen that gives the bone its durability. The peak bone mass is achieved around 35 years.
Bones perform many important functions in our body, such as
- Providing framework to the body
- Allows movement of the body and forms joints.
- Helps in the storage of minerals such as calcium and phosphate.
- Aids in the attachment of muscles and tendons
Diet plays a very important role in maintaining the structure, development and strength of the bone.
Nutrients that are essential for bone health
- Calcium: it is an essential mineral which the bone structure is primarily made up of. It helps in the development and strengthening of bones. Adequate intake of dietary calcium ensures its balance and helps delay the onset of bone disorders such as osteoporosis. Some of the food sources of calcium include milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important in maintaining the strength of bone structure. It helps in the absorption of calcium and prevents its resorption from bones. Good sources of vitamin D includes sunlight, fish, egg and milk and its products.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential for bone mineralization, its deficiency can lead to low bone mineral density and weak bones that are susceptible to fractures. Green leafy vegetables, eggs, liver and meat are good sources of vitamin K.
- Magnesium: About 60% of magnesium is reserve in the bone, its deficiency can cause the bones to be brittle and fragile and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Inadequate intake or deficiencies of these minerals can cause the bones to become weak and unhealthy which may cause you to become susceptible to bone related disorders.
Some of the risk factors
- Low intake of calcium and other essential minerals and vitamins
- Lack of exercise
- Female gender
- Increasing age
- Early menopause
Common bone diseases & disorders
Osteoporosis: This a condition in which the bone mineral density decreases. This may occur when the rate of bone resorption is higher than its deposition. The bones become weak and fragile and are more susceptible to injuries and fractures. Although, bone mass gradually declines after reaching its peak in both sexes, women are more at risk for osteoporosis as low estrogen levels due to menopause accelerates the bone loss. Lifestyle factors such as adequate intake of calcium and daily exercise can help prevent osteoporosis.
Rickets and osteomalacia: Vitamin D deficiency in children causes them to have bowed lower limbs known as rickets. In adults, it leads to osteomalacia that causes the bone to have poor mineralization with increased fracture risk and bone pain.
Gout: This bone disorder is caused by deposition of sodium urate crystals in bone joints and causes acute inflammatory response. Some of the risk factors include obesity, high intake of uric acid, excess alcohol consumption and heredity.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: This bone disorder occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed. It may also be caused by repetitive flexion and extension of wrist joint, for example prolonged use of keyboard. Some of the actions that may help prevent is taking breaks from repetitive activities and avoid frequent flexing of wrists.
Exercise and bone health
Exercise plays a very important role in maintaining healthy bones. Weight bearing exercise helps in the thickening of bones strengthening them to make them less susceptible to injuries and fractures. Lack of exercise may make the bones lighter and weaker.
- Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Dietetics (Revised. New age international publication).
- Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Nutrition Science (Revised. New age international publication.
- Osteoporosis- National Health Portal of India
- Bone Health Basics- Ortho info by American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons
- Food for Healthy Bones- NHS
- Manual, A. (2011). Dietary guidelines for Indians. National Institute of Nutrition, second edition. Hyderabad, India, 89-117.