While milk does the body good, kids also need exercise to improve bone health.Why kids need calcium:
Calcium helps to increase bone mass in kids, and more bone mass means less risk of fractures. Additionally, calcium intake in childhood can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, a skeletal system disease characterized by low bone mass and bone tissue deterioration. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), growing bones absorb the most calcium
from the blood during the teenage years.
“Bone health is important for everyone. Problems with bone health can occur in anybody and it’s important for everyone to keep their bone health at the best possible level they can,” Children’s National Health System’s Director of the Bone Health Program
, Laura Tosi, MD.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends kids ages 9 to 18 consume about 1,300 milligrams
of calcium every day, which is equivalent to about four and a half eight-ounce glasses of milk. Luckily, calcium can be found in other places too:
- Dairy products – low fat or nonfat milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables – bok choy, broccoli, kale, mustard greens
- Tofu – if processed with calcium sulfate
- Calcium-fortified juice, bread, and cereal
However, keeping bones healthy requires more than calcium intake. Vitamin D helps the body absorb
calcium and phosphorus
, also important for healthy bones. The AAP recommends supplementing calcium intake with 400 IU of Vitamin D, usually in the form of chewable vitamins.Healthy bones and exercise:
Dr. Tosi said that weight-bearing activities, like running and jumping, are the most important type of exercises for building healthy bones. These weight-bearing activities help kid’s bodies reach peak bone mass. Children should participate in 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Here are some other examples of weight-bearing activities:
- Tennis or Racquetball
- Field Hockey
- Stair climbing
- Jumping rope
Many physical activities can help children’s bones grow strong; however, there are some things that are detrimental to bone growth. Children should cut down on fast and processed food intake because of the amount of salt in these foods. According to the AAP, a diet high in salt may deprive the body of calcium by increasing the amount excreted in the urine. Also, stay away from alcohol and cigarettes as both can decrease the body’s bone mass.