Bone Health: Bones, Minerals and Vitamins

Bone: Bone Health and Bone Structure

Bones are the hard bodily structures that make up our skeleton. They come in different sizes and their main functions are to provide support and protection for our organs. It is estimated that we have close to 206 bones.

What are bones made of?

Bones are made up of different kinds of bone cells or osteocytes, taken from the Greek word ‘osteon’ meaning ‘bone’ and ‘cyte’ meaning cell. There are essentially 2 types of bone cells: the soft, spongy inner cells and the hard, outer material. Bone is made up of proteins, minerals and vitamins.

Collagen: Important Protein found in Bones

The most abundantly occurring protein found in bones is called collagen. It is estimated that collagen makes up about 25 percent of the total amount of proteins in our bodies.

Collagen is a fibrous protein which provides bone with both strength and flexibility, and is an important component of many other tissues, including skin and tendons – that link muscles and bones. Collagen is a very important type of material that is found in abundance in the body helping to connect, support and protect tissues, skin, tendon, muscles and cartilage. Collagen also supports the internal organs and is even present in teeth. It is estimated that there are more than 25 types of collagens that naturally occur in the body.

Interestingly enough, the word ‘collagen’ itself comes from the Greek word ‘kola’ which means quite literally ‘glue.’ Collagen acts like the body’s glue, supporting and holding the internal organs in place.

Minerals in Bones

Bone is the hardest substance found in the body and this is because it contains the most amounts of minerals. The major bone minerals include: calcium, potassium, manganese, sulphur and magnesium. Bones are a storehouse for minerals that the body uses for many vital functions. Trace minerals are needed by the body in small quantities and some of the trace minerals found in bones include: silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus and chromium.

Minerals provide structure in helping to form bones and teeth. Minerals are not naturally made in the body and so they must be taken in our diets. That is why it is important that we eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as these are excellent sources of the minerals we need to maintain health.

One of the most important and abundant minerals found in bones is calcium.

Interesting Bone Facts:

What is the largest bone in the body?

The thigh bone or femur as it is often called stretches from the hip at the top to the knee bone.

What is the smallest bone in the body?

The smallest bone in the body is the stirrup bone in the middle ear which measures only 0.25 to 0.33 cm long. It helps to carry sound signals to the brain.

Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet usually serves to provide all the minerals and vitamins we need for health. A balanced diet means eating foods from all the main food groups which includes protein, carbs, vitamins & minerals, oils & fats and fibre. Drinking plenty of fresh water and taking regular exercise also contribute towards a healthy lifestyle. We need to look after our bones as they carry us throughout life and as we age, we may find an increased need for nutrients that assist bone health.