The bones serve many functions in the body. It provides the body's structure, protects the internal organs, provides housing for the bone marrow where the blood cells are formed, anchors the muscles, and stores calcium.
Bones are continuously changing through a process called bone remodeling where new bone is made to replace the old bones. Each bone in the body is fully replaced every 10 years or at the rate of 10% a year. During childhood and adolescence, new bone is made faster leading to an increase in bone mass and lengthening of the bones. A growth plate is also found at the end of each long bone, for example, the bones in the legs and arms. When children and adolescents reach their full height, the growth plates close and the bones stop lengthening but become thicker instead. Bone thickening adds to the bone mass. A person reaches their peak bone mass at the age of 30 bone remodeling continues but bone mass steadily declines as a person ages. Bone loss in women becomes even faster at menopause when the estrogen levels in the body drops.
The likelihood of a person to develop osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones in the body to weaken and become brittle, depends on the peak bone mass that a person reaches and the speed at which they lose it. The best prevention is to build strong bones now and maintain bone health throughout life to prevent fractures and other complications later.
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