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Osteoporosis FAQ: How Nutrition and Diet Affect Your Bone Health

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What is the bone-calcium connection?

"Calcium [which is, incidentally, the most abundant mineral in the body] is the material that gives bone strength, much as bricks do for a building, but the bones need an underlying structure of proteins that are special for bone to hold on to the calcium," according to Ruth Freeman, MD, professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center. "Basically, there are two types of cells active in bone -- one, the osteoclast, makes pockets in the bone, chewing it up so that good bone can replace any damaged bone. The second type, the osteoblast, comes in and fills in the bone pockets that the osteoclast created. Over about 10 years' time all bone is replaced to remove little damaged areas. But after age 40 the osteoblasts don't adequately refill the pockets created by the osteoclast, so there is a net loss of bone. Anything, therefore, that speeds up turnover of bone, like loss of estrogen, will increase the loss of bone in people who are over age 40."

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