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The structure and role of bones

Bone structure basics

Bones play a vital role in supporting our bodies. Here, we'll take a look at the structure and role of bones.

Living bones
For many people, bones bring to mind displays of museum dinosaurs or science classroom skeletal models. It's hard to imagine that bones are actually alive.

The reality, however, is that bones are interlaced with a network of narrow blood vessels that provide bone cells with essential energy and support.

Fractured bones are able to return to normal and grow healthy again because bone cells are constantly creating new bone material.
Living bones
Bones - more than just blocks of calcium
Bones are constructed from more than just calcium. Another vital material in bones is collagen, a type of protein. If we were to think of bones as reinforced concrete, calcium would be the cement and collagen the reinforcing rods.

As shown in the diagram, new bone is created with a core of collagen, which helps bind the calcium together.
Bones - more than just blocks of calcium
Gradual regeneration, day by day
Because bones are constructed from living tissue, old bones are constantly being broken down and replaced by new bones. In short, bones are reborn little by little, day after day.

In adults, bones are fully regenerated every three years. This cycle of regeneration starts from the moment we are born, and is repeated over and over, irregardless of age.
Gradual regeneration, day by day

The functions of bones

Bones fulfill two major functions
The bones of all land animals, including human beings, fulfill two major roles. First, they support our bodies, giving us strong skeletal frameworks that enable us to live on land without collapsing under our own weight.

Second, they act as a storehouse for calcium, an element that plays a vital role in the functioning of cells throughout our bodies, as well as in the transmission of electrical impulses along our nerves. Although solid calcium is stored in our bones, it is also found in dissolved form flowing through our blood.

Moreover, the calcium in our bloodstream must be maintained at a constant level. When levels become low, calcium is dissolved from our bones and carried to cell tissues throughout various parts of the body. When plentiful, extra calcium is stored in our bones for future use.
Bones fulfill two major functions

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