The growth and loss of your bones
Osteoporosis in simple words means bone weakening and loss of tissue that occur at higher speed than natural bone loss due to the aging process. It became an object of fear for many people, who are closing in to their golden years. However the things that we have a little understanding of are always seem much scarier than they are in reality. In order to understand what is osteoporosis and how it is different from natural bone loss you first need to know how the process of bone regeneration works in general.
Bones are not a shell-like mass of dead tissue, it`s a living organ, constantly changing and renewing itself. How healthy your bones are depends on the process, called remodeling. Bone cells called osteoclasts (literally “bone breakers”) disassemble and digest hydrated protein and minerals in old bones of the vertebral skeleton at a molecular level. This process is known as bone resorption, during which small dents and empty spaces are left behind.
When osteoclasts complete their job, then it`s time for the osteoblasts to step in. These guys fill empty spaces left by osteoclasts, thus making a new bone tissue. In one year about 5-10% of all human’s bone is completely replaced this way. So in order to make more stronger and flexible new bone tissue, your osteoblasts need a proper osteoclast activity. They are mutually dependable and having balance is the key.
Healthy bones are important, because they store 99% of the body’s calcium, and deliver just enough of the rest for our system to function. They also have about 50% of total sodium and magnesium deposit.
As we age we still experience natural bone loss even if our bones are healthy. In our teen age, especially puberty, when we experience burst in our body and skeleton growth, osteoblasts provide more bone formation that is being removed by the osteoclasts. In their late 30’s women and men are at peak of their bone mass – after that bone resorption is slightly (about 1%) higher than formation. When we get to our midlife (around 50’s) resorption is from 1 to 1.5% higher than formation, and that number is individual for different people, based on their diet, physical activity, bad habits and drug intake. During the menopause women can even experience 1 to 5% acceleration, however after menopause this goes back again to the stable rate.
And this is the difference from osteoporosis, when your bone loss rate is sky-rocketing to 25%, but it`s still a slow enough to go for years unnoticed, until one casual fall incident could cause bone fracture.