When you think of your bones, it is likely that you won’t associate them with the Hulk- a massive, fictional superhero. However, our bones are similarly strong; they have essential functions in our bodies that maintain this strength. Let’s explore what makes them strong and what their strength enables them to do.

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The bone’s chemical composition enables it to complete its many functions. The human bone is largely made up of inorganic compounds(1), with these compounds taking up 67% of the bone composition. Within that 67%, minerals such as calcium and phosphorus work together to provide strength to the bone.  In order to maintain that bone strength, our bodies periodically “remodel” by replacing old calcium in our bones with new calcium from our bodies(2). Our bones become weak when the body takes more calcium from the bone than it gives. This process is a part of a larger bone remodeling process, in which the bone cells work to replace old bones(3). As a result, it is important for people to intake various minerals that our bones need to rebuild: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium(4).  The other 33% of the bone’s chemical composition is made up of organic compounds(5), which mainly consists of collagen. Collagen enables the bone to resist being pulled apart by providing elasticity. The combination of calcium, phosphorous, and collagen make our bones very strong.

This strength is important because it enables bones to complete functions such as being the structural support of the body, providing a good environment for blood cells to be produced (in the marrow), storing minerals (such as calcium), and protecting organs in our body(6). That makes it vital for people to consider their bones when changing their diets. Proper intake can lead individuals to reach their peak bone mass and maintain good bone strength. When our bones are thin and frail, there is a higher chance that we are susceptible to fractures and conditions such as osteoporosis(7). Contrarily, when they are strong and healthy, they will allow us to take on many tasks: walking, biking, running, and more.

References and Footnotes:

  1.  Inorganic compounds are compounds that do not contain carbon. There are some exclusions: carbon dioxide, carbonates, carbides, and cyanides.
  2. US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Communications. “What Is Calcium & How Does It Build Strong Bones?” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Dec. 2016, www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/bonehealth/conditioninfo/calcium.
  3. There are three types of bone cells: osteoclasts, osteoblasts, and osteocytes. Although each type of bone cell has a different function, they all work together to keep our bones healthy.
  4. Clark, Emily. “Weak Bones: Everything You Need To Know About Weak Bones.”Consumerhealthdigest, Consumer Health Digest, 12 June 2018, www.consumerhealthdigest.com/bone-health/weak-bones.html.
  5. Organic compounds are usually compounds that contain one or more molecules of carbon that are covalently linked with other elements.
  6. International Osteoporosis Foundation. “Introduction to Bone Biology: All About Our Bones.” International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 Dec. 2017, www.iofbonehealth.org/introduction-bone-biology-all-about-our-bones.
  7. Osteoporosis is a condition when an individual has bones that are weak and susceptible to fractures.

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