Osteoporosis is a condition through which an individual’s bones become weak and fragile. This condition often appears as people age, but several actions may be taken to prevent this at a young age to support good bone health for a lifetime.
Children’s bones continuously gain mass and strength as they grow. Good nutrition, including a diet high in calcium and Vitamin D, can aid in the bone strengthening process as an adolescent. The Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 9-18 years attain around 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Calcium is the main contributor in osteoporosis prevention. Because calcium isn’t made in our bodies, it must be absorbed from the foods and drinks we intake. Vitamin D significantly aids in an individual’s absorption of calcium.
So, how do you get Vitamin D? This vitamin can be found in several foods, and can be absorbed through sunlight. These, however, may not be the most practical ways to attain Vitamin D. Individuals, particularly children, should be cautious of absorbing too much sunlight, and always remember to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Sunscreen blocks some absorption of Vitamin D, so this it should not be the most relied upon source for the vitamin. Supplements may be the best option to ensure children are getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D to support bone health.
Weight-bearing exercise during an individual’s teenage years is essential for maximum bone strength. This exercise level consists of a wide range of activities, including walking and running, as well as sporting activities, such as basketball and soccer.
To maximize a child’s bone mass and prevent development of osteoporosis later in life, parents are encouraged to encourage their children to engage in a healthy, calcium-rich diet and exercise regularly.
If you’d like to make an appointment for you or your child, contact Campbell Clinic today at 901-759-3100.
This blog post was adapted from AAOS.