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Orthopedics

The basics of bones

The typical human body contains about 206 bones that play various roles, from giving your body structure to protecting your organs.

Keeping your bones healthy and strong is a lifelong process. New bone is continuously being made while old bone is broken down in a process called remodeling. 

Bones are a living, growing tissue, made up of collagen, a protein, that makes them flexible enough to withstand everyday wear and tear, and calcium phosphate, a mineral, which hardens and gives them strength. Your body banks 99 percent of its calcium supply in your bones and teeth (the rest is in your blood).

For most people, bone formation reaches its peak around age 30. While bone remodeling still happens in later decades, you will lose more bone mass than you gain. Bone loss can put you at risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle because of a loss of tissue. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 40 million Americans already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.

It's important for children and adolescents to do things to build up strong, healthy bones. As an adult, you can take steps, too, for your bone health. For many people, osteoporosis is preventable and treatable so continue or adopt new habits for healthy bones.