We all start life with about 270 bones, however, due to fusion, the average adult has a grand total of 206.
These bones form our skeletons that provide us with protection for our internal organs, contain marrow where blood cells are made, store minerals which are essential to life, give us support and allow our muscles to attach to them to enable us to move.
So how do we build strong bones in children?
Firstly – get them outside doing exercise!!
Weight-bearing physical activity, such as walking or running, causes new bone tissue to form, and this makes bones stronger. This will also make muscles stronger. Bones and muscles both become stronger when muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity.
Bone strengthening activities are especially important for children and teens because the peak bone mass is built during that time, making it essential to maximise bone density early in life to help prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis.
It is recommended that children and teens aged 6 to 17 years should get a total of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Secondly – ensure they eat calcium-rich foods!!
Calcium plays a vital role in building strong bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Australian Dietary Guidelines specifically recommend milk, cheese and yoghurt to be included in our daily diet for their readily absorbable dietary calcium.
Foods such as canned fish, broccoli, almonds, nuts and some cereals contain calcium but in much smaller amounts than dairy foods. You would need to consume five cups of cooked broccoli, 21 cups of raw chopped spinach, 11 cups of diced spinach, or one cup of almonds to absorb the same amount of calcium as one glass of milk.
Thirdly – let them have adequate exposure to the sun!!
We need skin exposure to sunlight to produce Vitamin D.
For most people, adequate vitamin D levels are reached through regular daily activity and incidental exposure to the sun. During summer, the majority of people can maintain sufficient vitamin D levels from a few minutes of exposure to sunlight on their face, arms and hands or the equivalent area of skin on either side of the peak UV periods (the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense) on most days of the week.
Article by Dr Mia Rabjohn (Osteopath)