Our skeletons are composed of hard tissue that provide us with a sound infrastructure allowing for upright posture, complex movements and amazing dexterity. While many people look upon their skeletons as little more than scaffolding — hard structures that hold us up and give shape to our bodies — many don’t realize that this is but one of the many ways our skeletons serve us.
For a fun analogy to help illustrate this point, consider this: our skeletons are not like a small store selling one kind of widget — they are more like a mini-mall offering us multiple goods and services. Your amazing skeleton offers:
- ‘Parking’ in the form of support for softer tissues and attachment points for skeletal muscle to assist in movement.
- ‘Security’ in the form of mechanical protection of internal organs.
- A ‘supermarket’ where the body can shop for “groceries” such as key minerals that play essential roles in cardiovascular function and overall health. This includes calcium (97.9% of which is in the skeleton), magnesium (50%), sodium (35%), and phosphorus (85%), as well as “specialty foods” — alkalizing compounds like citrate and carbonate, which attach to the minerals in bone and provide for the essential maintenance of minute-to-minute blood pH balance.
- A ‘hardware store’ in the form of bone marrow that offers blood cells (for moving nutrients and oxygen), platelets (for fixing leaks and patching holes), and ‘batteries’ (reserve energy in the form of fatty acids).
- A ‘locker room’ for toxic metals, keeping these hazardous substances out of circulation.
- And there’s even a ‘courier service’ in the form of hormones that send messages to the tissues about glucose control, energy metabolism, body mineral balance, and body fat (Martin 2017).
Our skeletons are a wonder, and with so much to offer, it’s no surprise most of us are satisfied customers!
Martin C. Bones make hormones that communicate with the brain and other organs. Science News 2017;191(13):12.