Dr. Perricone
The Importance of Bone Health

Over the years, heavy emphasis has been placed on calcium and bone health, especially for women, even though men also experience bone loss, albeit at about half the rate of women.

Unfortunately, the messages from many health care professionals and the media regarding the importance of healthy bones almost never exceed the barest of basics: the skeleton is made for holding you up and keeping you together.  Almost all data regarding the importance of calcium and bone health are referenced only in this light.  This is indeed an important function of the skeleton, but it is only part of the story.  This focus has fostered a popular misconception about the role of bone health in overall health and longevity.

Functional bone health encompasses much more than skeletal strength alone.  A healthy skeleton does more than just lower our fracture risk.  It is intimately involved with our health as an endocrine organ. As such, it performs many important functions, including the production of red blood cells, immune cells (white blood cells), platelets, various growth factors, and cytokines, any of various protein molecules secreted by immune system cells that serve to regulate the immune system.  Bone health also exerts an endocrine influence on the regulation of sugar homeostasis (the state of equilibrium or balance), fat storage, energy metabolism, and more.

Bones may be the part of our body that many of us know very little about.  The fact that our bones function as an endocrine organ comes as a surprise to many of my patients.  If you really wish to be Forever Young, or at least as healthy and youthful as possible, we need to place a great deal of emphasis on maintaining healthy bone mass during each decade of life.