Enjoy Healthy Bones at Every Age with the Right Nutrition During the Growing Years
Are you investing in your child’s future bone health today?
Did you know that children’s bones keep on growing throughout childhood and the fastest growth occurs during toddlerhood and puberty?
While most parents ensure that their toddlers are well-fed, sadly, with other developmental activities (school, sports, extracurricular) creeping in, we fail to provide our pre-teens and teens with balanced nutrition.
Building strong bones during the growing years is essential to keep your bones healthy and avoid osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases later in life.
As a parent, you need to ensure that you are laying the foundations right for your child’s bone health. Read on the learn more about the role of bones and how they grow and support your child during the growing years.
What Do Bones Do?
This may seem like a simple question, but there’s more to it. Bones support your body and provide the framework for your muscles, tissues, and vital organs. They also protect your vital organs like the heart, brain, lungs, and others from injury and damage.
Bones are living tissues that reach peak growth during adolescence and then start declining, as we grow older. Bones are made up of:
- Collagen – a protein that provides a flexible framework for bones and
- Calcium – a mineral that adds hardness and strength.
The combination of calcium and collagen make your bones strong and flexible.
Do Bones grow all Through Life?
No. Bones stop growing after you reach a particular age. You can think of your bones like a bank account. The nutrition take in during childhood and your growing years is deposited in your “bone” account. You then withdraw (bone tissues) from this account during your adult years. This means your bones grow fast during toddlerhood, pre-teenage and teenage years. The bones become denser, heavier, and larger during these years.
Generally, once you reach twenty years, your bones stop growing as fast as before. Once you hit thirty, withdrawals from your “bone account,” happen faster than deposits. When bone deposits don’t keep up with the withdrawals, it causes osteoporosis – which is weakening of bone structure and strength.
- Bones grow actively during the toddler and adolescent years.
- Bone growth slows down after this, and you begin to lose bone mass as you reach your mid-30s.
- Rapid loss of bone density occurs as you grow older.
- Women lose bone mass faster as they hit menopause.
Factors Affecting Bone Mass
Your bone mass is influenced by several factors. Some of these factors like gender are beyond your control, but other factors like nutrition and lifestyle, can be managed to increase bone mass.
Gender – Men enjoy higher bone density than women. Before puberty, both boys and girls develop bone density at similar rates. However, after puberty, boys acquire bone mass faster than girls.
Race – Your ethnicity determines your bone density. Though, more research is needed to understand the differences in bone mass between various ethnic groups.
Hormonal Factors – Oestrogen and testosterone play a crucial role in determining bone mass. Girls who get their periods at an early age have higher bone density. Girls who have irregular periods have lower bone density.
Nutrition – Calcium and vitamin D are building blocks for bone health. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is a must for bone health.
Physical activity – Weight-bearing activities like running, walking, jumping, skipping are essential to help children strengthen their bones.
Why Should You Focus on Your Child’s Bone Health during the Growing Years?
By providing your children with the right diet – foods rich in calcium and vitamin D – you are laying the foundations for strong bone health in their adult years. If you want bones to achieve peak bone mass, then the right time to do it is during their pre-teenage years and adolescence.
By providing them with a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and encouraging them to participate in physical activity during the growing years, you can ensure that your children enjoy healthy and strong bones all through their life.
What can you do to keep your children’s Bones Strong and Healthy?
One of the best ways to ensure that your children enjoy strong and healthy bones all through their life is to encourage them to form healthy eating habits and participate in physical activities during their growing years.
Recommended calcium Intake per Day for Children
- 1 to 3 years – 700 mg
- 4 to 8 years – 1000 mg
- 9 to 18 years – 1300 mg
Calcium is found in several foods, but the easiest way to ensure that your children get sufficient calcium is by giving them milk and other dairy products. However, a single glass of milk (250ml) contains only 300 mg of calcium, which is around 1/4th the RDA for teenagers. So, look for milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D to provide your kids with additional calcium in each cup.
Boost Bone Health in Childhood to Enjoy Strong Bones as Adults
Bones are the framework of our body, and play a vital role in all our day-to-day activities. So, ensure that you provide your child with the right nutrition to boost bone density, so that he/she can maintain strong and healthy bones all through life.