Natural Ways to Build Strong Bones
Kids grow fast. You buy them new shoes. And it seems like the next minute, they all of a sudden need a new pair. They are constantly growing.
However, your child’s growth and development is important. It has a direct impact on their future health and well-being.
A huge part of your child’s development is the building of strong bones. Surprisingly, 90% of bone mass is developed before the age of 18. Those 18 years can fly by – which is why it is important to invest early on in helping your child build strong and durable bones.
Strong bones contribute to good mobility and a lower risk of fractures later in life. In other words, your child’s happiness and quality of life depend on it.
So, How Can You Help Your Children Build Strong Bones?
- Make Sure They Eat Foods High in Calcium.
Calcium makes bones strong. It gives bones their hardness, as well as a certain amount of flexibility. Arguably, calcium is the most important mineral for bone growth.
For children, the calcium that is deposited into bones comes directly from the food they eat. As parents, we often dictate what our children’s diets consist of. Thus, you are in charge of making sure your child gets the right amount of calcium every day.
Have your child drink a glass of milk at every meal. Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as yoghurt or cheddar cheese. Work these foods into your grocery list. And stay in the know on how much calcium your child actually needs. For children 4-8 years old, they need 1000 mg per day. For children 9-18 years old, they need 1300 mg per day. Make sure your children get their daily recommended amounts of calcium each and every day!
- Include Protein Rich Foods in Their Diet.
In addition to calcium, protein is just as important to healthy bone development and growth. Almost 50% of bone is made up of protein. Low protein diets may also result in lower calcium absorption, leading to weak and brittle bones.
Foods, such as meat, eggs, beans, and seafood, have high-quality protein content. If you don’t already, start including these food items in your regular meal rotation.
- Don’t Forget About Vitamin D!
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. We get a lot of our vitamin D from the sun, so encourage your children to play outside! Teach them the do’s and don’ts of sun exposure. Sunscreen it up and stay hydrated on those hot days.
During the winter months, the weather may prevent your family from enjoying the great outdoors. However, many foods are high in vitamin D, such as eggs and tuna. Include these in your child’s diet to ensure healthy bone development.
- Teach Them Strength Training Exercises.
Have your children join you in the gym! If they seem uninterested, make strength training exercises into a game. For example, start a friendly family competition. Who can do the most push-ups? Who can do the most burpees? Squats? Test the waters and make it fun!
If all else fails, other activities that mimic the effects of strength training include hopscotch, leapfrog, and skipping.
- Ensure Your Kids Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Being overweight comes with many health issues. Having excess weight may increase your children’s risk of bone fractures, heart disease, and much more.
Help them maintain a healthy weight. Encourage a positive and healthy body image.
On the other hand, also make sure they are consuming enough calories to grow. A calorie deficit could deplete their bone stores.
- Find Foods High in Magnesium.
Magnesium plays a major role in transforming vitamin D into an active form that your body can use. As previously mentioned, we need vitamin D to absorb calcium. Spinach, almonds, and black beans are high in magnesium. Find and explore new recipes that include these foods.
- Incorporate Zinc into Your Children’s Diet.
Zinc is a trace mineral found in bones. It helps in the bone building process. Foods with high zinc content include chickpeas, mushrooms, cashews, and spinach.
- Encourage a Low Sodium Diet.
The general population consumes far too much sodium. It is packed in processed and pre-packaged foods for flavor and preservation. High sodium diets cause calcium to be excreted by the body. This takes away from calcium deposits that could contribute to strong and healthy bones. Instead, make sure your children get the right amount of sodium in their diets but not too much.
- Make Sure Your Children are Physically Active.
Physical activity builds muscles and in turn, strong bones. It isn’t all about resistance training! Any activity is better than no activity at all. Sign your child up for a team sport or partake in active family activities on a regular basis. Create a positive association with physical activity for your kids.
- Don’t Allow Your Child to Consume Caffeine.
Caffeine may also promote calcium loss from the body. It is important to keep the amount of caffeine to a minimum for your children. Or have them avoid it altogether. Kids are more sensitive to it, and it may cause harmful effects, such as headaches and sleeping issues.
Help your children build strong bones! Promote natural, healthy habits early on by encouraging healthy activity levels and well-balanced diets. As adults, they will thank you for it!