Bones Alive! [The Amazing Truth About Your Bones]

Bone health care is one of our primary concerns at StrengthX. Did you know bones are living tissue? That’s right, bones are alive! And keeping your bones alive and well is essential, no matter how old or young you are.

It might be easy to assume that bones are dead material because most of the examples we see have been preserved. This involves bleaching and drying them. So, they do appear lifeless (and indeed they are), once they are no longer in a living body.

However, bones are alive when they are in a living body,  just like the rest of the body. Let’s explore some of the factors that make bone living tissue.

What makes bones alive?

The best confirmation that bones are living tissue is that they are filled with blood vessels. This is how they get oxygen and other vital nutrients like proteins, minerals, and vitamins that are necessary for the vital role they play in the body. As a matter of fact, not only are bones alive; they actually produce blood cells for the entire body. That includes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This occurs inside the bone marrow. Without bones, you would have no blood!

Another clue that bones are alive is the fact that infants are born with bone that is soft and not fully calcified. Newborns have about 300 soft (cartilaginous) bones. As the baby grows, cartilage is gradually replaced by hard bone. This occurs through a living process known as mineralization. Some of those original 300 bones fuse together. So a normal adult skeleton has 206 bones. 

Bone tissue eventually becomes the body’s storehouse for calcium. This is a very important function because calcium is necessary for numerous cellular processes.

The only changes that occur in dead tissue involve decay. But, as you have already learned, bones are dynamic. Once the bones are fully formed, they continue to change over the course of a person’s life through a mechanism called remodeling. Remodeling involves two types of living cells within the bones: osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclasts break down old bone material, and osteoblasts build new bone material. This happens over and over again throughout the life cycle. Scientists have estimated that the entire skeleton is re-created through the remodeling process every ten years.

Osteoblasts are more active during the early years, between childhood and adolescence, when the skeleton is being built through the process of mineralization.

By age 20, about 80 percent of the skeleton has been fully mineralized with calcium. This process is completed and bone growth “peaks” between the ages of 25 and 30. Then begins a period where osteoblast and osteoclast activity is relatively balanced. This is the ongoing remodeling process where the bones are continually renewed and regenerated in the adult skeleton.

As we age, osteoclasts gradually become more active (which means bone gets broken down faster than it is being rebuilt) In women, this happens most significantly during the time of menopause (starting around age 51) because of a reduction in estrogen. It’s when the risk of conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia increase in women because bone is being broken down faster than it can be rebuilt.

Did you know women can lose up to 25 percent of their bone mass during menopause? This is why it is so important for women to make lifestyle and diet choices during that period that help them to maintain their bone health. One great way to do that is through exercises that encourage osteogenic loading. We’ve covered the details of osteogenic loading in a couple of previous articles. So If you want to learn more about it, check them out here:

How to Improve Bone Health Using the Wisdom of Wolff’s Law

What Bone Density Experts Know About Osteogenic Loading

Men do not experience the same sharp decline in bone formation as women. For them, the increase in osteoclast activity is a gradual process that begins after peak bone mass is attained around the age of 30. And osteoclast and osteoblast activity remain relatively balanced until around the age of 70. This is why men are less prone to conditions like osteoporosis.

Another important facet of living bones is the process of repair. When a bone is fractured, the bones quickly repair the break with a somewhat haphazard organization of collagen fibers known as woven bone. Since woven bone is mechanically weak, it is replaced over time with another type of collagen matrix called lamellar bone. Lamellar bone is characterized by the organization of collagen in regular patterns which make it mechanically strong.

As you can see, bones are not only alive. They have an innate biological intelligence that dictates their dynamic action over the course of a lifetime.

We are experts in the field of building and maintaining healthy bones, and we have lots of fun doing it. So, if you understand the importance of keeping your bones alive and healthy, we can help you do that here at StrengthX. We have state-of-the-art tools like The Echolight S Ultrasound, which helps us find out all we need to know about the state of your bones. (learn more about this technology in this previous blog post). We also have the bioDensity machine, which is the ideal way for you to get the osteogenic loading action required to maintain strong bones at any age.

Summary

Bones are alive! 

While most of the bones we encounter firsthand are not living because they are not inside a living body, bones are dynamic and vital within a living body.

We know bones are living tissue because they have their own supply of blood vessels. Bones are also in a perpetual state of change whereby old bone is replaced with new bone.

Bones go through several processes in a normal person. First, the soft bones of the infant are gradually replaced with mineralized hard bone. In adults, living bone cells known as osteoclasts and osteoblasts are continuously breaking down, rebuilding, and repairing the bone matrix. This process also involves repairing fractured or broken bones.

Both men and women undergo a decline in bone-forming activity in later years, making it important to put some effort into maintaining healthy bones during that time. This is especially true for women because of the rapid changes that occur during menopause

In a nutshell, bones are amazing! And we are experts at helping our clients keep it that way!

Resources

https://americanbonehealth.org/bone-density/bone-is-a-living-tissue/

https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/health-professionals/about-osteoporosis/bone-biology