Your bones

206 bones support your body - over half of which are found in your hands and feet.

Far from being the dry and dusty sight of any skeleton picture we may have seen, they are in fact a living part of us, with their own supply of blood and the bone tissue being built up or thinned down depending on the loads we carry or the need for calcium (a major part of bone) in the rest of the body.

Just as importantly, inside the larger bones are hollow spaces filled with bone marrow where 'stem cells' make all the component parts of our blood.

A very common condition to affect our bones is called osteoporosis - when the bones become fragile and prone to break after minor injury.

It affects one in three women and one in 12 men in the UK and often only comes to light after a fracture first occurs.

A general process of the bones slowly weakening starts from middle age but can advance more rapidly in some people who will go on to develop osteoporosis.

Those at risk include women if they have had an early menopause or hysterectomy (before the age of 45) and people who take corticosteroid tablets (for conditions such as asthma or arthritis).

Diet and exercise are the two key preventive measures.

If you think you are at risk then discuss it further with your GP, who may feel a test should be ordered to check the strength of your bones.

For more information you may like to follow the link to The National Osteoporosis Society: www.nos.org.uk.

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