Written by Liza John 

While running around and trying to ensure that their children are mentally and physically healthy, parents tend to overlook bone health. Building healthy and strong bones from childhood is vital to prevent disorders like osteoporosis or reduce risks of fractures later in life. During childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, bones grow stronger absorbing minerals and nutrients. The bone density and bone mass peaks somewhere in the late 20s. After this, as a person ages bone density starts declining.  

When the body loses too much bone mass, the bones turn weak and fragile, this is known as osteoporosis. A person suffering from osteoporosis may break their bones due to a small fall or in severe cases, even due to sneezing.  

Studies suggest that children with a higher PBM or peak bone mass, have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Therefore, it is important to promote bone health in children. Poor bone health has also been linked with onset of rickets at a young age. So now, how can you boost your kid’s bone strength naturally? A healthy lifestyle and proper diet can help maintain good bone health. As an added benefit, since you start young, chances are that your child will stick to a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives warding off numerous other diseases. 

Calcium Rich Food 

Calcium is known for being a building block of bones and teeth in the human body. It plays a vital role in maintaining the skeletal system. 

Kids about 4 to 8 years old need 1g of Calcium every day, while from 9 to 18 they need as much as 1.3g each day. How can you get calcium into their diets? Well luckily, calcium is found in a wide range of foods, some calcium rich foods are: 

  • Dairy like milk, yoghurt and cheese. 
  • Soy milk and Tofu 
  • Leafy greens like kale, broccoli, cabbage 
  • Nuts and seeds including almonds, sesame seeds
  • Legumes including soybeans, red beans, chickpeas  

Kids usually like dairy products but on the odd chance that your child is lactose intolerant, ensuring that your child gets enough calcium can be tricky. 

Soy or Almond milk smoothies, hummus, almond butter, or adding a side of salad may be good ways to provide your child with Calcium. However, children with lactose intolerance tend to have calcium deficiencies; talk to your doctor about Calcium supplements in this scenario. 

Get Enough Vitamin D 

Vitamin D regulates the amount of Calcium in the body, and a deficiency of Vitamin D might result in rickets or osteoporosis.   

The good news is that our body produces Vitamin D when the skin is directly exposed to the sunlight. A good exposure to sunlight every day, provides your child with the necessary amount of Vitamin D to prevent a deficiency.  

Vitamin D can also be found in some foods like egg yolks, cheese, oily fish like tuna, and red meat. In case, your child hasn’t been stepping out much or if the sunlight is weak as in winter, consider adding these foods to your child’s diet. 

Encourage Physical Activity 

Bones are a living tissue like muscles, they too get stronger with more work. While any kind of physical activity is great for general health, weight bearing activities like walking, tennis, or resistance exercises are ideal to promote bone health. These activities use muscles and work against gravity to put pressure on bones, thereby building stronger bones. 

On the other hand, exercises like cycling or swimming are good for general health, but they do not put much pressure on the bones. 

The maxim “If you rest, you rust.” is true about your bone health. The less time you spend sitting and more time you are active, the better your bone health would be. 

Teach your kids to love physical activity and encourage them to make it a part of their routine.  

Final Thoughts 

While a Calcium and Vitamin D rich diet coupled with good physical activity can promote bone health. There are some activities like smoking or drinking that may be harmful to your bones.  

If you think it is too early to talk to your kids about smoking and drinking, think again. Most people who smoke, usually start before their high school ends.  

Be a good role model, like with any other aspect of life you want to teach your child, practice what you preach. Children observe you even when you least expect them to. Incorporate these points into your life and reap the benefits.