By Dr. Jennifer L. Franz

Your bones are the hardest structure of your body.  The compression strength of bone is 24,000 lbs. per sq. inch, in comparison, steel has a compression strength of 60,000 lbs. per sq. inch.  The strength of our bones comes from the quantity of two kinds of tissue, hard bone or compact bone on the outside, and cancellous bone on the inside, which looks more like lattice work.  Bones are infiltrated with blood vessels, veins, and nerves, the amount and quantity are dependent on the location of where they are.  Our bones have many layers as well.  The outermost layer, the periostium, is thickest during childhood, and has the highest level of vessels, veins, and nerves, due to the need of nutrients for rapid growth.  As we age, the periostium becomes less thick and less vascularized, thus, it has a greater tendency to soften and weaken.

Bone is comprised mainly of calcium and phosphorus, which makes up approximately 58% of the weight of bone.  Bone contains 99% of the body’s calcium supply, which is needed for many important functions of the body, such as muscle contraction.  Calcium however, is also in your blood supply, and is needed as a nutrient primarily from the foods we eat.  It is a very big misconception that calciums best and only source is only in dairy products.   Many people are actually allergic to dairy products, and are unable to synthesize its protein. Calcium is also found in fish, vegetables, and some fruits.  The calcium levels in your blood actually affect the calcium levels in our bone.  This reciprocal relationship is controlled by your nervous system which is housed within your backbone.  Your nervous system also controls your delicate hormonal system, as discussed in my previous article about stress and the nervous system.  Your hormonal system affects the calcium levels in the body as well.  Hormones such as estrogen, androgens, and adrenal corticoids, all affect calcium levels.  These are hormones affected by menopause as well. 

Calcium and phosphorus are absorbed in the small intestine and are often not absorbed properly or adequately.  Often high dosages of calcium supplements, contrary to belief that they will make your bones strong, are not absorbed, due to a malfunction of the nervous system and its involvement with the intestines.  Poor diet can also affect the absorption process.

When balance of your nervous system is disrupted or interrupted, it adversely affects the calcium, phosphorus, and the delicate hormonal system.  Over time, pathologies of the bone begin, such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. 

Information however, is power, and we do have the power to do something about these pathologies and our bone strength.  Firstly, we can see our Chiropractor regularly to specifically balance our nervous and hormonal system.  There are many gentle effective techniques that can be used on people who already have bone pathologies.  Chiropractic can help regulate and regain optimal health and well being to their bodies by affecting their metabolic processes via the nervous system.  Many studies show people who are under regular Chiropractic care have stronger healthier  bones and lead more active lives that those who are not.   Secondly, we can do weight bearing activities such as walking and utilize proper weight training to build muscle and strengthen bone.  We can eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and certain kinds of fish.  Blueberries and carrots for example, are high in calcium.  However, dietary calcium is a waste if you have a malabsorption problem.  Again, go see your Chiropractor.  Limiting caffeine is also important for it depletes calcium levels.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if you do smoke, now is the perfect time to quit.  Nicotine in the blood also depletes the body of calcium and dramatically affects bone strength, plus an array of other essential functions.

By making simple changes in our life, at any stage or condition of our life, we can positively affect and improve our bone strength and health.