Bones play many vital roles in the body. They provide support, allow movement, protect tissues and organs, serve as an anchor for muscles, and store calcium and phosphorus. The best time to build strong and healthy bones is during childhood and adolescence.
Why is ensuring bone health important in childhood and adolescence?
When parents talk and think of their children’s health, they hardly mention bones. However, building healthy bones cannot be underestimated. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits as well as teaching your kids and teens about them is important. It helps prevent osteoporosis, fractures, and other bone diseases later in life.
According to the National Institute of Health, osteoporosis is a childhood disease with old-age consequences. This is because bone mass attained in the early stages of life determines the lifelong health status of the bones.
Therefore, the health habits formed in an individual’s childhood and adolescence can impact their bones as they age. Habits surrounding nutrition and physical activity during a person’s younger years are like deposits. At this period in life, children and teenagers have their bones still growing both in size and density.
Bones usually reach their peak in density and strength when a person is in their late twenties. However, up to 90% of this bone mass is attained by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys. This makes childhood through to adolescence the best time to invest in the health of your kids’ bones.
What habits should I develop for my kid's bone health?
These habits are not strange or new. They are very similar (if not the same) to what you do for your kids' overall well-being. The essential ones in ensuring healthy and strong bones are proper nutrition and adequate physical activity.
A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is crucial to their growth. Calcium is found in many foods, but milk and other dairy products (yogurt, cheese, etc.) are rich sources. Milk and fish are good sources of Vitamin D.
If your kids are picky with some or most of these foods, supplements are highly recommended to add to their diet.
Also, have your children get involved in exercises. Their bones get stronger the more they use them, just like muscles. While cycling and swimming are great for overall body health, weight-bearing activities work best for bones. These include walking, running, climbing, and jumping. Involving in sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, and hockey should be encouraged.
The CDC recommends 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily. This is for kids ages 6 to 17, and these exercises include activities that strengthen bones.
What are the effects of a bad lifestyle on the bones of my kids?
Osteoporosis in developed countries poses a serious public health problem in children and adolescents. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits remain implicated factors. Studies suggest that these habits can make your kids develop osteoporosis or osteopenia early in life. Consequently, they have a high risk of fractures and a lower quality of life.
Influence of poor nutritional habits
Bad nutritional habits include high intake of carbonated beverages, eating foods rich in refined sugars, fat, and sodium, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
A study confirmed that carbonated drinks' intake replaces the nutrients milk and fruit beverages provide the body with. This reduces the quantities of vitamins and minerals needed for bone health.
A review confirmed that human studies show that diets high in fat and sugar have adverse effects on bone mass. They also increase the risks of fractures as a person ages.
Smoking tobacco causes an imbalance in bone turnover and affects bone mass via several physiological means. This results in lower bone mass and exposes the bone to osteoporosis and fracture.
According to research, heavy alcohol intake in adolescents causes low bone mineral density. Low bone mineral density is a significant characteristic of osteoporosis. At the same time, heavy alcohol intake results in failure to reach peak bone mass, a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Another study reported similar findings. The excessive use of alcohol may lead to insufficient calcium and vitamin D necessary for bone health. It causes an increase in the risk of fractures and reduced bone mineral density.
Influence of Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle, a lack of adequate physical activity is on the rise in Western societies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exclude children.
Research found that sedentary behavior is a risk factor for bone stiffness index development in children and adolescents.
In other reports, physical activity improved bone strength in both boys and girls. As such, not engaging in physical activity led to the relative weakness in children’s bones.
The bone health of your kids should be as important as their overall health. Watch over what they eat and ensure they get the necessary amount of exercise. Nutritional supplements are a bonus of weighted advantage. A recent study beats hard on the benefits of nutritional supplements as your kids develop physically and mentally. These supplements provide them with important minerals and vitamins such as calcium, vitamin D, Vitamin C, iron, and zinc.
Thus, in addition to a healthy diet and adequate physical activity, nutritional supplements should be taken regularly to meet with the demands of your kids’ ever-evolving brains and bodies.
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