The skeleton is responsible for many things, including
- Providing a frame for the body
- Helping our bodies move
- Providing protection for internal organs
- Storing calcium and phosphorus
Just like other organs in the body, our bones can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy bones can do the things a skeleton is supposed to do. Unhealthy bones needs to be cared for. Just like you care for your heart when your cholestrol levels are not in range, you should care for your bones to ensure bone health.
One way bone becomes unhealthy is when it loses minerals, like calcium and vitamin D. This loss of bone is measured by the bone density test. Decreased bone density is termed osteopenia or osteoporosis, depending on how bad the calcium loss is.
- Osteopenia: lower than normal bone density, but not low enough to be categorized as osteoporosis
- Osteoporosis: literally “porous bone,” where the spongy interior of the bone becomes too thin and porous. Bones are more likely to break in this state
There is also a rare condition of having too much bone density that is often seen in patients with hypoparathyroidism (not enough parathyroid hormone production). While it is unknown if it is harmful to have too high a bone density, it is considered abnormal.
Your bone health is something that you may be able to control. Work with your doctor to figure out how much calcium, vitamin D or other supplements you may need, how to start an exercise plan, or introduce other lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on your bones.