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The human skeleton plays both a structural and reservoir function in the body. It enables mobility and support while also providing protection for internal organs. Bone serves as a reservoir for essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorous. The skeleton is an active organ made up of tissues and cells which are in a constant state of flux and impact bone shape, size, and position throughout life.

Bone growth and development occurs throughout one’s lifetime, with most bone mass acquired during childhood and teenage years. Bone formation outpaces bone resorption until one reaches peak bone mass, typically in the 20’s through age 30. Around the mid 30’s, the scales tip and bone resorption slowly starts to exceed bone formation which leads to age-related bone loss. Diet and exercise play key roles in managing age-related bone loss. Excess loss of bone mineral mass can lead to conditions such as Osteopenia and Osteoporosis later in life.^^

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Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body with 99% of it stored in the body’s bones and teeth. Vitamin D is critical for enabling normal bone mineralization through its role in promoting calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. There is no question that calcium and vitamin D are essential for keeping bones healthy and moving. However, nutrition intake surveys in the US continue to show that Americans fall short on adequate consumption of these important nutrients. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified both of these nutrients as under-consumed by the general population and thus deemed them to be nutrients of public health concern.

Below are recommended intake guidelines for these key nutrients from the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes compared to average dietary intake found in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.3


Bone is made up of ~2/3 minerals and ~1/3 collagen. This unique combination of minerals and protein (collagen) allows for the dual action of bone strength and flexibility. Consider that a structure made only of minerals would essentially be brittle and break easily because there is no flexibility, while a structure made only of protein would be soft and bend too easily. While calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients for bone strength, minerals such as magnesium, copper, manganese, and zinc play a role in supporting collagen formation in the body. Additionally, collagen has great tensile strength and not only provides support to bones, but to the many other organs and tissues in which it is also contained, including cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and skin. 

Age-related changes affect absorption of calcium and maintenance of healthy collagen, thus adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and key collagen supporting minerals through diet and/or supplementation is important for good bone health.



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