What Minerals Are Found in Bone Tissue?

by Sandi Busch, Demand Media Google
    Fat-free milk and dairy products replenish calcium for bones.

    Fat-free milk and dairy products replenish calcium for bones.

    When you're active and enjoying life, chances are you don't think much about your bones. But it's never too early to give them some attention. The foods you eat now lay the groundwork for strong bones throughout your life. Bones continuously replace the minerals that keep them healthy and strong. If you give them a regular daily supply of the nutrients they need, you can help prevent osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

    Calcium and Phosphorus

    Calcium is known as the bone-building mineral, but it doesn't work alone. Your bones also contain a significant amount of phosphorus. About 65 percent of your total bone mass is made from a substance called hydroxyapatite, which is a mixture of calcium and phosphorus. Hydroxyapatite provides strength, but if your bones were made from nothing but hard minerals, they would lack resilience and break easily. To solve that problem, the minerals bind with collagen, which is a strong connective tissue made from protein. Thirty-five percent of your bone mass consists of collagen, adding flexibility that helps bones absorb impact without breaking.

    Magnesium

    A little more than half of your body’s magnesium is located in your bones, although it only represents about 1 percent of the bones' total mineral content. It helps regulate the size of the hydroxyapatite crystals as they harden into bone. If you don’t have enough magnesium, the crystals are larger than normal, which makes the bones brittle. Magnesium in your bloodstream impacts hormones that regulate the amount of calcium absorbed into your system. Lack of magnesium causes levels of calcium to go down, so less is available for building bones.

    Bone Basics

    Everyday wear-and-tear gradually damages bones. To keep them strong, your body constantly removes old bone and replaces it with new. This remodeling process is slow -- most of your bone is totally replaced every 10 years -- but after age 30, bone tends to lose minerals faster than they’re replaced. Bones also serve as storage containers for calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which is important because they have other vital jobs to fill. For example, calcium and magnesium control heart muscles, calcium is essential for nerves to work properly and phosphorus keeps acid-base levels normal. If the level of minerals available in your blood drops too low, your body takes them out of your bones.

    Dietary Requirements

    You probably don’t need to worry about phosphorus because it’s abundantly available in different foods and few people have a deficiency. However, many women do not get enough calcium and magnesium. The best way to get your RDA of calcium -- 1,000 milligrams daily -- is through eating fat-free dairy products, fortified foods, beans, spinach and other leafy greens. Green leafy vegetables are also good sources of magnesium, as well as grains and nuts. Women need 320 milligrams of magnesium daily, except if they become pregnant, and then the RDA is 360 milligrams. Two vitamins are also critical for your bones. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and vitamin K because it helps regulate mineralization.

    About the Author

    Sandi Busch has been a health writer since 2000. Her articles have been published in The Autism Asperger's Digest, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, newsletters for health organizations such as NAMI, the book "Early Intervention and Autism" and Web content for hospitals. Busch received her B.A. in psychology from Westminster College and studied nursing at George Mason University.

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