Some people think of bones as hard and lifeless, but they are actually living, growing tissue. Your bones are made up of three major components that make them flexible and strong:
- Collagen, a protein that gives bones a flexible framework
- Calcium-phosphate mineral complexes that make bones hard and strong
- Living bone cells that remove and replace weakened sections of bone
Children and teenagers form bone faster than they lose bone.
Even after children and teens stop growing taller, they continue to make more bone than they lose. This means their bones continue getting denser until they reach what experts call peak bone mass, the point when you have the greatest amount of bone you will ever have. Peak bone mass usually happens between the ages of 18 and 25. The more bone you have at the time of peak bone mass, the less likely you are to break a bone or get osteoporosis later in life.
As you age, you can lose more bone than you form.
After you reach peak bone mass, the balance between bone formation and bone loss might start to change. You may start to slowly lose more bone than you form. In midlife, bone loss usually speeds up in both men and women. For most women, bone loss increases after menopause, when estrogen levels drop sharply. In fact, in the five to seven years after menopause, women can lose up to 20 percent or more of their bone density. Osteoporosis happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone, or both.
It’s never too late at any age to take steps to protect your bones. Learn how.