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The Bone Bank Account

Think of bone as a bank account where you "deposit" and "withdraw" bone tissue. During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. For most people, formation continues at a faster pace than removal until bone mass peaks during the third decade of life.
Remember, in order to be able to make "deposits" of bone tissue and reach the greatest possible peak bone mass, you need to get enough calcium, vitamin D, and exercise -- important factors in building bone.
After age 20, bone "withdrawals" can begin to exceed "deposits." For many people, this bone loss can be prevented by continuing to get calcium, vitamin D, and exercise and by avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use. Osteoporosis develops when bone removal occurs too quickly or replacement occurs too slowly or both. You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you did not reach your maximum peak bone mass during your bone-building years.

Bones in Women and Men

Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. This is because women generally have smaller, thinner bones, and because they can lose bone tissue rapidly in the first 4 to 8 years after menopause due to the sharp decline in production of the hormone estrogen. Produced by the ovaries, estrogen has been shown to have a protective effect on bone. Women usually go through menopause between ages 45 and 55. After menopause, bone loss in women greatly exceeds that in men. However, by age 65, women and men tend to lose bone tissue at the same rate.
While men do not undergo the equivalent of menopause, production of the male hormone testosterone may decrease in men in their 40s and 50s, and this can lead to increased bone loss and a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
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