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Bone care

Bone Health

Bones are so important that it is vital to keep our bones healthy throughout our lives. Healthy bones provide a strong foundation, allowing mobility and protection from injury. They also serve as a bank for important minerals, such as calcium, that help support numerous organs in our body.

Bones are alive and constantly changing, with new bones being made and old bone lost throughout lives? In adults, the entire skeleton is completely replaced every 7–10 years.

Taking care of bones by proper nourishment and exercise when you are still young will help you to attain good bones helping you to live the life that you love. Here at bone health, you can learn and understand the basics of bone health. We also provide you with realistic and achievable self-management steps like dietary management and exercises to build strong which is the best defense against osteoporosis, a bone disorder that is high in women.

Bone Health Basics

Bones are the living tissues that form the major portion of your skeleton. There are 206 bones in an adult’s body whereas infants have around 300 bones in their body. Bones help you in mobility and protect your internal organs.

Bone structure

Bone is made up of proteins and other minerals like calcium, phosphate and magnesium. Collagen (a protein), which is a cementing substance, forms the structure and framework of bones.

The basic structural components of a bone are

  • Periosteum: This is a thin membrane that covers the outer surface of your bone. It consists of nerves and blood vessels.
  • Compact bone: This forms the outer layer of all your bones and is very dense. When you look at a skeleton, the compact bone is what you see.
  • Cancellous bone: This looks like a sponge and is not as hard as the compact bone. It covers the bone marrow which is the innermost part of your bone.


Bone growth

Bones continuously keep undergoing a vigorous process of resorption (removal of old bone) and deposition (formation of new bone) known as bone metabolism.

There are two major cells involved in the resorption and deposition of your bones. They are:

  • Osteoblasts: These are Cells that are responsible for the formation of new bones
  • Osteoclasts: These are Cells that are responsible for the breaking down of bones

It is with the cooperation of these Cells that your body maintains proper balance of minerals required for your body’s physiological functions. The process of resorption and deposition goes on throughout life.

Diet and bone health


Intake of adequate calcium is necessary to maintain healthy bones since your bone contains 99% of the calcium present in your body. Other important nutrients include phosphorus, magnesium, fluoride and vitamin K. Foods that are rich in calcium are milk and dairy products.

Vitamin D is required for proper absorption of calcium from food. Sunlight provides your body with enough vitamin D which is absorbed by your skin.

It can also be obtained through dietary sources such as fortified milk, vitamin D-fortified foods and fatty fish.

Factors affecting bone health

There are various factors that affect bone health.

  • Genetics: Bone disorders can run in the family. If your parents or siblings have had bone problems, you are more likely to get it. Certain ethnic groups have comparatively stronger bones than other ethnic groups
  • Diet: Adequate calcium and vitamin D is required for healthy bones. Cigarette smoking and consuming alcohol increase the risk of bone loss
  • Physical activity: Regular exercises and physical activity strengthen your bones
  • Age: The strength of your bones decreases with age. You are more likely to develop bone problems as you reach Menopause
  • Body size: Thin and underweight women tend to have weaker bones

One can maintain healthy bones with a calcium rich diet and physical exercise. Bone disorders can affect the quality of life.



Osteoporosis occurs when there is a loss of mineral content from bone mainly in the form of calcium. Osteoporosis mainly affects women, although it also affects men, but in a smaller percentage.

Osteoporosis shows no symptoms and is usually part of the normal aging process. However some women develop the disease early in life due to other co-existing disease factors. Women also run the risk of developing it post Menopause. Since it displays no symptoms it is only when you get a fracture or recurrent fractures, that your doctor will suspect osteoporosis.

Your doctor will evaluate the loss of mineral from your bones through tests which will determine your Bone Mineral Density (BMD).

Preventing osteoporosis

The development of strong bones begins early in life. Staying healthy throughout life is an excellent way to keep your bones healthy. The factors essential for healthy bones are:

Hormones: The production of the Hormone Estrogen is vital in adolescent females and young women so as to maintain bone mass. A shortage of Estrogen occurs in the following conditions, affecting bone mass and could lead to osteoporosis:

  • Absence of periods
  • Infrequent menstrual cycles
  • Delay in the onset of the first period
  • Early menopause


Smoking affects bone health and results in a substantial loss of bone mass (bone mineral density) in women. Besides osteoporotic women who continue to smoke while on medication for osteoporosis, fail to achieve the full benefits of treatment. Women who consume
excessive alcohols are also at risk for osteoporosis.
Other lifestyle factors that can lead to osteoporosis are:

  • Insufficient calcium intake,
  • Very minimal physical activity,
  • Excessive caffeine intake,
  • Excessive alcohol intake and


Calcium: Calcium is one of the most essential nutrients necessary for you to reach the highest level of bone strength. To prevent osteoporosis you should eat a well balanced diet with adequate amounts of dairy products, which are the primary source of foods rich in calcium.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D serves many important functions in relation to calcium metabolism. It helps increase your calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal system and kidney and thereby makes it available to your body tissues and blood. It also functions to help with the deposition of calcium to your bones.

Recommended daily calcium intake (Source : Dietary guidelines for Indians, NIN)













Man (body weight = 60 kg)



Woman (body weight = 55 kg)



Pregnancy/Lactation   1200


0-12 months


Average calcium content of various foods (Source : Dietary guidelines for Indians, NIN)

Food groups

Foods Nutrient content for 100 g edible portion

Cereals and Legumes

Ragi, bengalgram
(whole), horsegram
(whole), rajmah and

200-340 mg

Green leafy vegetables

Amaranth, cauliflower
greens, curry leaves,
knol-khol leaves
Colocasia leaves

500-800 mg

1130 mg
1540 mg

Nuts and Oilseeds

Coconut dry, almond,
mustard seeds and sunflower seed

Gingelly seeds

Cumin seeds

130-490 mg


1450 mg

1080 mg

Bacha, katla, mrigal,
pran and rohu

320-650 mg

Milk and Milk Products

Buffalo’s milk, cow’s
milk, goat’s milk, curds
Cheese, khoa, skimmed
milk powder and whole-
milk powder

120-210 mg


790-1370 mg

Bones go through a constant state of bone loss and re-growth. As you age, more bone loss than bone growth can occur which is a normal and natural process. To increase your chances of staying healthy, exercise every day and get enough calcium and vitamin D. Seek your doctor’s advice about ways to prevent osteoporosis or the treatment options available.

Exercise for Bones

As you age, body goes through many changes. Some of the major changes that occur in your body as you get older are:

  • Bone mass and density decrease
  • Muscle size and strength decrease
  • Tendons and Ligaments become less elastic
  • Cartilage degeneration and joint inflammation occur

The above bodily changes put you at an increased risk of fractures, various injuries, osteoporosis and arthritis. Exercising everyday can help prevent the above complications and provide a lot of relief in some chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Regular exercise can also help prevent bone loss and allows you to maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn help to prevent falls and related fractures.

Before you begin an exercise program, consult your doctor. Perform only the exercises advised by your doctor. Do not follow an exercise regimen of your own, because your doctor may recommend certain restrictions based on your individual health status.

Source: Indianwomenshealth

Last Modified : 2/8/2022

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