Childhood and the adolescent years are important stages for bone growth and development. In fact, about half of an adult’s bone mass is built up during the short time frame of adolescence.
The health of our bones is determined mainly by factors that we cannot control such as genetics, gender and age. However, there are factors that we can control such as the foods we eat and the type of physical activity that we do.
A balanced diet which provides the correct amount of nutrients is important for our bones. Particular nutrients are recognised for playing a role in the normal growth and development of bone in children including calcium, protein and phosphorus. Milk, yogurt and cheese are among the best dietary sources of calcium, as well as providing protein and phosphorus. Vitamin D is another key nutrient for bone health. It is known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ because it is made by the action of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D is also found in food - sources include: oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel); egg (yolk); and dairy products fortified with vitamin D.
Regular participation in ‘weight-bearing’ activities is also essential. Weight-bearing activities are activities that put the full weight of our body on our feet and legs.
Examples of fun, ‘weight-bearing’ activities for children: