When it comes to health and wellness, bones tend to be overlooked. Maintaining healthy bones, however, is essential for your current and future health. Besides providing structure to the body and enabling the body to move, bones protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium. Bones are living, growing tissue and are constantly changing. Bone is made up of a combination of two materials: collagen, a protein that provides a soft, connective framework; and calcium, a mineral that adds strength and density. This duo makes bone both strong and flexible enough to hold up under stress.

Bone formation typically continues at a quicker pace than dissolution until around the age of 20. After age 30, bone withdrawals can outpace deposits causing bone loss. Bone loss can lead to osteoporosis, where bones thin and can break. Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans, with women four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Osteoporosis means, literally, “porous bones,” and is a debilitating disease that can lead to bone fracture. More than 52 million Americans have low bone density and are at risk for osteoporosis – 80% are women. The good news: osteoporosis is not a natural part of aging.

A number of factors can affect bone health.

  • Amount of calcium in your diet. ― A diet low in calcium adds to diminished bone density, early bone loss and increased risk of fractures.
  • Physical activity ― People who are less active are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise is needed for bones to grow to their full peak.


  • Tobacco and alcohol use ― Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Regular consumption of alcohol can also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Gender ― Women have an increased risk of osteoporosis because women have less bone tissue than men.
  • Size – If you’re extremely thin or have a small body frame, you might have less bone mass to draw from as you age, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
  • Age ― Bones thin and weaken with age.
  • Race and family history ― People who are Caucasian, or of Asian descent, are at greatest risk of osteoporosis. If you have a parent or sibling with osteoporosis, you are also at a greater risk or if you have a family history of fractures.
  • Hormone levels ― Higher levels of thyroid hormone can contribute to bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.
  • Eating disorders and other conditions ― People with anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. Additionally, stomach surgery, weight-loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Certain medications ― Prolonged use of some types of medication can be damaging to bone or increase your risk of osteoporosis.

Make sure your body is getting all the nutrients needed for proper bone growth. Calcium is crucial in order to build bone tissue and vitamin D helps the body absorb and process calcium. Together, these two nutrients are the cornerstone of healthy bones. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,000 mg of calcium a day for most adults and 1,200 mg/day for women after menopause and men after 70. Incorporate foods that contain calcium and vitamin D into your regular diet. Foods that can promote bone health include: yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, sardines, salmon, tuna, spinach, collard greens, fortified cereal and orange juice. To learn more about bone health join Nishi Elangbam, MD, a family medicine physician with Chestnut Hill Family Practice, for a free lecture at Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 15. Learn how to keep your bones healthy and strong for today and tomorrow.

To register for the Nov. 15 presentation, please call 215-753-2000 or visit

Located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and a member of Tower Health, Chestnut Hill Hospital is a 148-bed, community-based, university-affiliated, teaching hospital committed to excellent patient-centered care. Chestnut Hill Hospital provides a full range of inpatient and outpatient, diagnostic and treatment services for people in northwest Philadelphia and eastern Montgomery County. With more than 300 board-certified physicians, Chestnut Hill Hospital’s specialties include minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, cardiology, gynecology, oncology, orthopedics, urology, family practice and internal medicine. Chestnut Hill Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and is affiliated with university-hospitals in Philadelphia for heart and stroke care and residency programs. For more information, visit