Captain Kirk famously called his medical officer bones. I don’t know if he consciously did it because your bones are what is holding you up. Literally! It is the frame around which the rest of you can form itself and you may or may not have a soul but for it to have a residence within, your bones play an important role.

I had heard that you replace your skin frequently but really had not paid much attention to the possibility that perhaps, your replace your bones frequently too. I was therefore surprised to learn that your bones renew themselves every ten years or so. At birth, the bones grow by adding bones to one site and removing from another. This allows the shape of your frame to change as you grow in size. Once you are fully grown, the bones change in a process called remodeling where the same bone is replaced by new bone. This remodeling repairs bones, removes stresses caused by external factors and help maintain the shape of your body. This can include elimination of excess bone formation which can hurt or harm you. In addition bones also are a store house of minerals and spare these minerals for you depending on the need.

The health of your bones is driven by genes and if you don’t already, you can blame your mum for one more shortcoming. However, after birth, your diet and exercise can make a difference to the quality of your bones, especially the amounts of calcium and phosphorous that you consume as your bones require these minerals to remain healthy. Since your bones both need and store minerals, if you don’t consume sufficient calcium and phosphorous the bone gives up these minerals for the overall survival of the body to its own detriment. This is obviously harmful, an important reason you need to watch the consumption of your minerals.

Many things can go wrong with your bones including a softening of the bones called osteomalacia and a weakening of the bones called osteoporosis. It is hard to measure the changes in your bones and therefore often, fractures or other ailments can occur without warning. If you are predisposed or have reason to be concerned about the health of your bones, talk to a qualified doctor and watch your consumption of key minerals. As always, exercise, exercise, exercise.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.