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Jill Bawden

25 November 2016
Biology and Essential Nutrients for Bones
The following paper will be discussing the biology of bone health and how certain
nutrients affect an individuals bone density. Bones are essential to our body. They help it to
move, give it shape and structure, and store nutrients to create our blood cells. Two very
important nutrients in our bones are calcium and vitamin D. They help maintain strong bones
and prevent fractures and bone loss. By working together these essential nutrients maintain the
health of our bones. Lots of things can go wrong if there arent enough of those nutrients. A
common disease among the elderly is known as Osteoporosis. It results in reduced bone mass
leading to more fractures. Bone health is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle by receiving
enough of the proper nutrients and doing everything possible to avoid bone disease.
Each bone has three main workings that comprise the necessary parts to give them
strength and support. The first part of it is the periosteum, which is the thick membrane that
covers most of the bone. The second part is the cortical and trabecular bone. This is usually the
largest layer. The cortical bone is very compact and strong. It does have microscopic holes that
are for nerves and blood vessels to provide nutrients for the bone cells. Its made up of osteons
(Marieb, 918). Cortical bone stores and releases the nutrient calcium, which is very important
part to our bone structure. The trabecular bone is sponge-like and acts as a shock absorber
providing more stability. It has lots of holes but still support the bone. The last part is called
bone marrow. That resides inside and contains two types of stem cells, hemopoietic and stromal.
Hemopoietic cells aid in developing new blood cells and stromal cells create bone, cartilage, and
fat (Wardlaw, 360).

The complex process of remodeling bones consists of two bone-building cells,

osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts help with the reformation of bone and osteoclasts help
with the breakdown of bone (Wardlaw, 360-361). In a process called bone remodeling, healthy
young adult bone mass remains constant. Thats an indication that the rates of bone deposit and
resorption are essentially equal (Marieb, 187). If osteoclasts are working harder than the
osteoblasts the bone would start to become weaker. Both cells need to do their job in a proper
order for proper bone growth.
Calcium is extremely important to the cells in our body. It is the most abundant mineral
in the human body and 99% of it is stored in bones and teeth (Debacker, 30). In order for our
bones to grow and develop there must be a certain amount of calcium in our bodies. When the
body doesnt have enough intake of calcium, and the blood calcium concentration is too low,
then the body tries to compensate for that inadequate amount. Therefore, the bones then release
the calcium it contains causing the bones to lose that calcium and weaken (Wardlaw, 363-364).
The RDA, Recommended Daily Amount, for calcium intake is 1000 milligrams for adults up to
age 50, per day. Something to keep in mind though, is that the older you get the more calcium
your body requires. There can be consequences for too much calcium, however. The upper limit
for calcium is 2500 milligrams per day and if this is exceeded it can lead to kidney stones,
kidney failure, and other damage.
It is important to make sure that we are getting the best sources of calcium that we can.
Both plants and animal foods contain calcium, but the best sources of calcium are dairy products
or very green leafy vegetables. Some primary examples of good sources of calcium are plain
yogurt, various cheeses, and fortified orange juice, but excluding cottage cheese. The dairy
contained in cottage cheese is unavailable because of the way it is bound. Some green

vegetables that contain calcium include kale, cabbage, and broccoli. Secondary examples of
calcium could encompass anything containing dairy such as bread or crackers.
Vitamin D is another essential vitamin to our bone health. According to Debacker,
without vitamin D our bodies can only absorb 10 to 15 percent of dietary calciumeven if
calcium is present, the body cant use it (32). We need vitamin D in order to store and use
calcium. People believe that they need a lot of calcium for bone health, that is very true, but they
tend to forget that vitamin D is also required in order to use that calcium. In Wentzs article on
female distance runners he quotes, Vitamin D deficiency may compromise athletic performance
and raise the risk for bone injury (Willis, 2008) (397). Vitamin D helps with the formation and
structure of our bones by allowing us to use calcium.
The best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight. By exposing the skin for about 20-30
minutes a day it triggers our body to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D
deficiency is a worldwide problem affecting as many as one billion people, and it is estimated
that 20 to 100 percent of American, Canadian, and European elderly men and women are
deficient (Mulchany, 21). Physicians around the world are prescribing that many people take
vitamin D supplements. In the winter it becomes even more difficult for people to get the
required amount. Other sources for vitamin D include: fatty fish, canned tuna fish, certain types
of orange juice, fortified milk, and egg yolks (Marieb, 920).
Bone diseases do happen but there are ways to prevent the risk of getting one of them.
Bones help us with so many things so its important to keep them healthy. Osteoporosis is
classified as a chronic, progressive metabolic bone disease characterized by low/decrease bone
mass and structure deterioration of bone tissue, leading to increased fragility (Abdullah, 52-53).
This disease can be very serious for the elderly and especially women. Osteoporosis occurs 8

times more common in women (Abdullah, 53). Not enough people worry about it in their
younger years or take preventative measures. Then as people age it becomes impossible to come
back from. It is important to learn how to avoid it rather than treat it. Osteoporosis affects more
women than men because of the female menstrual cycle and menopause when so much estrogen
is lost. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also take a toll on the womens bone health unless
enough calcium is consumed during those times. There are ways to help prevent Osteoporosis.
Its recommended that receiving enough calcium and vitamin D will help strengthen them. Also
its important to exercise regularly. Things like aerobics, jogging, dancing, and yoga can help
prevent bone loss (Marieb, 860).
Another bone disease that is caused from malnutrition is rickets. Rickets is a bone
disease in children that is caused by lack of vitamin D which then inhibits the absorption of
calcium, making the bones weak, unstable, and more likely to break. In addition to that, Rickets
can cause childrens bones to be underdeveloped or deformed. It can also be caused by lack of
sun exposure. The best way to prevent rickets is just making sure that children are getting the
appropriate amount of vitamin D and calcium at the earliest age. With that, getting enough
sunlight every day can help with getting more vitamin D. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure
Rickets but there are a couple treatments. The first one being medication or supplements
prescribed by a doctor that can help with deficiency. The second option is therapy, which
includes getting a lot of sunlight and monitoring and/or altering the diet to get enough of the said
In conclusion, the importance of taking care of our bones is overlooked and there are
many simple ways to ensure that our bone cells are getting the proper nutrients they need. Our
bones are a very complex part of our bodies that work in wondrous ways, but keeping them

strong and healthy is not complex. There are many ways to help our bones develop correctly and
continue to help them maintain that strength. Just by going outside and incorporating certain
foods into our diets we can have a healthy support system. Our bones are such a crucial part to
our day to day living and without such strong support, living our lives and striving to be healthy
can become such a strenuous task. It is important to be aware of how our bones are and what we
can do to improve them so that we can avoid any sort of injury or illness. Being diagnosed with
rickets or osteoporosis or causing a fracture or break in your bones can be a devastating moment,
so taking a little time for certain precautions will be more beneficial for our bodies in the long

Works Cited
Abdullah, Zainab Aliyu, N. V. Muninarayanappa, and K. Chithra. "A Study To Evaluate The
Effectiveness Of Promotive Educational Program Regarding Osteoporosis Among
Female Teaching Staff (25-35 Years) In Selected Colleges At Moradabad (U.P)."
International Journal Of Nursing Education, 8.4, 2016, 52-57. CINAHL Complete.
Debacker, Gina, and Susan E. Brown. "Build Better Bones." Mother Earth Living, 3.2, 2015, 3033. Home Improvement Reference Center. Web.
Marieb, Elaine N., Hoehn, Katja. Human Anatomy & Physiology. Tenth Edition. Pearson, 2015.
Mulcahy, Kimberly B., et al. "Physician Prescribing Practices Of Vitamin D In A Psychiatric
Hospital." Innovations In Clinical Neuroscience, 13., 2016, 21-27. CINAHL Complete.
Strand, Mark A., et al. "Diagnosis Of Rickets And Reassessment Of Prevalence Among Rural
Children In Northern China." Pediatrics International, 49.2, 2007, 202-209. Academic
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Wardlaw, Gordon M., et al. Foundations of Nutrition. 4th ed. New York City: McGraw Hill,
2015. Print.
Wentz, Laurel M., et al. "Female Distance Runners Training In Southeastern United States Have
Adequate Vitamin D Status." International Journal Of Sport Nutrition &
Metabolism, 26.5, 2016, 397. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File.