Adapted from AAOS http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00317)
The health and strength of our bones rely on a balanced diet and a steady stream of nutrients, most importantly, calcium and Vitamin D.
Calcium is a mineral that people need to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It is also very important for other physical functions, such as muscle control and blood circulation.
Calcium is not made in the body — it must be absorbed from the foods we eat. To effectively absorb calcium from food, our bodies need Vitamin D.
If we do not have enough calcium in our diets to keep our bodies functioning, calcium is removed from where it is stored in our bones. Over time, this causes our bones to grow weaker and may lead to osteoporosis — a disorder in which bones become very fragile.
Postmenopausal women are most vulnerable to osteoporosis. Although loss of estrogen is the primary reason for this, poor lifelong calcium and Vitamin D intake, as well as lack of exercise, play a role in the development of osteoporosis.
Note that men also are at risk for osteoporosis — typically later in life than women — and it is important for them to keep track of calcium intakes, as well.
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