Think of your skeleton. What do you picture? If you are like most people you picture a set of long and hard sticks arranged in a way to work as scaffolding for more interesting things such as your muscles and skin, right? What if I told you instead that your skeleton serves not only as a scaffold, but also as a warehouse and an amazing factory responsible for making your own personal army? This is how your skeleton keeps your body together, protected, and mobile:
Protects your vital organs and brain
Gives structure to your body and holds it together
Stores calcium which your muscles need to process energy
It makes red and white blood cells (that's oxygen transport and defense systems)
Bones rarely ever get the spotlight until they are broken or start showing decay. I feel bones often get very under appreciated. Having weak bones is no joke and you should take better care of yours.
Look at the picture below and notice all the different parts making up a bone. An average bone is less less dense than a solid beam in a bike; this is because bones are hollow and filled with marrow, a fatty nutrient-dense tissue. Inside your bones are two types of stem cells used to produce blood cells, more bone, fat, or cartilage. Your skeleton is the factory for most things which make your body work and keep on living.
Notice how bones are alive, they should be maintained and cared for just like any other living tissue.
Bone health can be affected by:
Diet. A diet low in calcium and vitamin D contributes to diminished bone density and reconstruction. Low intake of minerals and energy will also affect bone density
Physical activity. Inactive people stimulate their bones less and are more prone to get osteoporosis. Lifting heavy weights is the easiest way to promote muscle strength
Tobacco smoking. You’ve heard me say smoking is the stupidest habit, and smokers showing weaker bone structures is just another reason why
Frequent alcohol use. People with a habit of drinking more than two drinks per day have a higher incidence of osteoporosis because alcohol inhibits your ability to absorb calcium. Binging on weekends often is probably not a great idea either
Gender. If your body is mapped after XX chromosomes (female) your bone structure is naturally less dense and prone to osteoporosis if not taken care of
Body size. Smaller people tend to have less bone density. If your BMI is 19 or less, you should start lifting heavy and monitor your calcium, vitamin D, and iron intake
Aging. Bones' capacity to regenerate slows down with age. The best way to avoid this is keeping these cells active and used to working continuously
Heredity. Some races have stronger bones than others. People of white and Asian ethnicity have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Get frequent check-ups if your family has a history of broken hips or diagnosed osteoporosis
Hormone levels. Low levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men will cause low bone density. Certain birth control pills will have an effect on this, so consult your doctor if you're on one
Certain medications. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone, are damaging to bone. Other drugs that might increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital, and proton pump inhibitors.
Keeping a healthy skeleton is not rocket science. If you want to keep your skeleton happy, just follow these simple rules:
Watch your diet and make sure to get at least 1,200mg of calcium per day. These could come from dairy products, broccoli, kale, almonds, or the bone marrow (obviously)
Supplement with the right vitamins. Vitamin D is important for processing calcium, recent studies show the FDA recommended dose of 600IU per day is far from enough. Supplement infants with 1,000 IU, kids between 3,000 IU and 4,0000 IU, and adults should keep it around 8,000 IU. Tuna, sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk will give an extra oomph to your diet in this department, but supplementing is probably a good idea. Vitamin K supports vitamin D's function, so add via supplements or you can also get them from kale and broccoli
Exercise, lift heavy weights or run. Make sure you put stress on your bones. Also, don't be lazy and carry your own luggage, water jugs, and groceries around, it is good for you
Cut down smoking and drinking alcohol to a minimum.
If you love your body it will love you back and you will enjoy life a lot more.
Stay healthy, eat well, and explore your possibilities.
You can show this to your kids or enjoy it yourself.