Throughout a person's life, bone is constantly renewed through a two-part process that consists of resorption and formation. During resorption, old bone tissue is broken down and removed by special cells called osteoclasts. During bone formation, new tissue is laid down to replace the old by cells called osteoblasts.
During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. Formation typically continues at a faster pace than removal until bone mass peaks during the third decade of life.
Unfortunately, many people don't think about building healthy bones until this third decade of life. That doesn't mean it's too late, however. Ways to improve bone health include:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Engaging in weight-bearing exercises
- Living a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake
- Undergoing regular bone density testing and taking medication if necessary.
(Click Bone to learn more about the role of bones in the body, the different types, and how both men and women can keep them healthy.)