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Childhood is the most important period for the development of healthy bones. Read on for four ways to ensure good bone health for kids.
Bones – the living tissue that makes up the framework for growing bodies – work over-time in your little one’s body and childhood is the time when they are developing most actively. For parents, this means ensuring children get enough of the essential nutrients they need for bone health.
How bones work
Bone is continuously forming and breaking down through cells called
osteoblasts and osteoclasts. During childhood, as your child’s body grows in size, more bone is formed than is broken down. Bones reach their maximum strength (referred to as “peak density”) when we are in our mid-twenties, after which, progressive bone loss occurs. This is why childhood is a crucial time for building healthy bones for life. Here are the four ways to ensure good bone health for kids.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies, and is most well-known for its important role in keeping bones and teeth healthy. Young children aged 1-3 years require 500-700mg of calcium per day.Children aged 4-8 require 800-1000mg, and children over 8 require 1200mg per day.
Milk is the food most often associated with bone health. Cow milk is one option, with 300mg of calcium in an 8oz glass, but for children with the common problem of cow milk intolerance [link to allergy vs intolerance], goat milk is a good solution.
Other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurtalso deliver on calcium – one 4oz pouch of Kabrita Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit [link to product] contains 48mg of calcium. Another easy way to serve up calcium for toddlers is Kabrita Goat Milk Toddler Formula – one 4oz serving contains 163.2mg.
Vegetables, especially dark green, leafy vegetables like bokchoy and broccoli, are also great choices. Other good sources include almonds, beans and lentils, sardines and salmon. Calcium-fortified drinks such as fortified orange juice, almond or rice milk are another options and all contain 300mg of calcium in an 8oz glass.You can work calcium into meals and snacks throughout the day,such smoothies, cereal, pizza, pasta, soups and sandwiches.
Calcium is important, however Vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) is also essential. That’s because it is crucial for calcium absorption. Optimal vitamin D3 also prevents rickets, a childhood disease that causes softening of the bones, poor growth and severe bowing of the legs.
Vitamin D is made by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight – in most climates about 15 minutes of sunscreen-free time outside a day is enough for children. It is also found in fortified foods, fish, and egg yolk. Ensuring approximately 400-800IUs (international units) in children up to age 8 is ideal.One 4oz pouch of Kabrita Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit contains 20% of the recommended 400IU allowance, and each 4oz serving of Kabrita Goat Milk Toddler Formula contains 16%.
Optimal magnesium also plays avital role in bone health. Not only does itbalance calcium, it is also needed to convert vitamin D to its active form. Nuts, legumes, and green leafy vegetables are good sources of Magnesium. For children up to age 8, 80-130mg is generally recommended.
Along with proper nutrition, the other keybone health habit is physical activity. Activities like walking, running, swimming, and playing team sports are great ways for the whole family to stay fit and active.
Establishing good bone health in childhood isn’t just good news for their physical development to adulthood. It can also reduce the risk of future diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis, two degenerative conditions that can result in weak, fragile bones prone to fractures later in life. By establishing healthy nutrition and fitness habits early, parents can encourage good bone health for life.
Below is a simple chart of some foods and the amount of calcium they contain.
1 cup yogurt = 350-450mg
1 8oz glass o f cow milk = 300mg
1 8oz glass of calcium-fortified orange juice = 300mg
1 8oz glass of calcium-fortified almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk = 300mg
1 ½ oz cheddar cheese = 300mg
1 cup collard greens = 120-180mg
1 cup white beans = 115 mg
1oz almonds=80 mg
½ cup broccoli = 35 mg