(BlackDoctor.org) — Bones are the framework for your body. Bone is living
tissue that changes constantly, with bits of old bone being removed and replaced
by new bone. You can think of bone as a bank account, where you make “deposits”
and “withdrawals” of bone tissue.
During childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn,
so the skeleton grows in both size and density. Up to 90 percent of peak bone
mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes youth the
best time to “invest” in your bone health.
The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton, known as bone mass, can keep
growing until around age 30. At that point, bones have reached their maximum
strength and density, known as peak bone mass. In women, there tends to be
minimal change in total bone mass between age 30 and menopause. But in the first
few years after menopause, most women experience rapid bone loss, a “withdrawal”
from the bone bank account, which then slows but continues throughout the
postmenopausal years. This loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis. Given the
knowledge that high peak bone density reduces osteoporosis risk later in life,
it makes sense to pay more attention to those factors that affect peak bone
Factors Affecting Peak Bone
Peak bone mass is influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental
factors. It has been suggested that genetic factors (those you were born with
and cannot change, like your gender and race) may account for up to 75 percent
of bone mass, while environmental factors (like your diet and exercise habits)
account for the remaining 25 percent.
Gender: Peak bone mass tends to
be higher in men than in women. Before puberty, boys and girls acquire bone mass
at similar rates. After puberty, however, men tend to acquire greater bone mass
Race: For reasons still not
known, African American females tend to achieve higher peak bone mass than
Caucasian females. These differences in bone density are seen even during
childhood and adolescence.
Hormonal factors: The hormone
estrogen has an effect on peak bone mass. For example, women who had their first
menstrual cycle at an early age and those who use oral contraceptives – which
contain estrogen – often have high bone mineral density. In contrast, young
women whose menstrual periods stop due to extremely low body weight or excessive
exercise, for example, may lose significant amounts of bone density, which may
not be recovered even after their periods return.