Ways to Help Your Kids Build Strong Bones
Strong bones are important for kids, as children build about 40 percent of their bone mass between the ages of 9 and 14. Girls reach 90 percent of their bone mass by age 18, and boys reach 90 percent of their bone mass by age 20. Nutrition and physical activity have a large impact of bone health, and here is how you can help your kids build strong bones.
1. Diet is Key to strong bones. A diet that builds strong bones must include calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K. Calcium: The best sources of calcium are low-fat diary like milk, cheese and yogurt, but almonds, broccoli and kale also have calcium. Many foods such as cereal and non-dairy beverages are calcium fortified. Vitamin D: Vitamin D can be difficult to get through diet, as there are just a few sources including egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Talk to your pediatrician about giving your child Vitamin D supplements. Magnesium: Good sources are almonds, spinach, black beans, peanut butter and whole wheat bread, Vitamin K: Look for food sources of vitamin K from green leafy vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, spinach and broccoli.
2. Exercise Builds strong bones. Regular weight-bearing exercise stimulates bones and makes them stronger. Walking, running, gymnastics, soccer, dancing, and hiking are all great weight-bearing activities. Your child does not have to play an organized sport to build strong bones- walk or hike together as a family to meet your activity needs.
3. Things to Avoid. Smoking and drinking alcohol can compromise bone health, but so can dieting, disordered eating and under-eating in pursuit of athletic endeavors. Talk to your doctor if you think your child might be dieting or under-eating.
For ideas on healthy grocery shopping, meal planning and other ways to help your family live healthier, consider working with one of our health coaches. A health coach can help you set goals and find realistic ways to reach those goals.
Dr. Karen Leibowitz
Health and Medical Coach