Lifelong Bone Health Begins In Childhood

A cross sectional picture of a healthy bone matrix and an osteoporotic bone matrix picture courtesy of ultimate-health-fitness.com

 

I am always encouraging my patients and their parents to include as many healthy choices as possible into their regular diet. This doesn’t mean they can’t eat some “fun food at the fair” but it does mean that can’t eat and drink those sorts of foods on a regular weekly basis. As we parents well know you won’t me young for ever and your body will betray you if you haven’t maintained it well from youth.

It  may come as a big surprise that good bone health in your child’s later years begins right now in their  youth. During the youth athletes childhood and adolescence,  skeletal growth is at its peak, this time of bone development sets the stage for what’s to come.

Since peak bone mass during childhood and adolescent years is one of the known major factors that can either contribute to, or help prevent osteoporosis down the road, it makes sense to pay attention to building strong and healthy bones during the early years.

This is the critical time that the bone matrix(structure of bone) you will have for the rest  of your life is being developed. If  the youth athlete or non-athlete isn’t eating the proper diet to support healthy bone construction,they will not have the optimum strength for the long haul of life starting or 30 years of age.  Why 30 years of age? Peak bone mass is reached at the age of about 30-35 years. It is the stage at which the bone is strongest. After this age, bone mass decreases. Achieving a good peak bone mass is important in reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later life because it means that bones are strong before loss begins.

Peak bone mass is influenced by genetic factors such as build and ethnic group. It can be increased by ensuring that the diet contains adequate amounts of calcium not just trough dairy products but green leafy veggies and vitamin D  ,sun exposure and proper supplementation during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Vitamin D is  a very critical factor for bone health is vitamin D, so you’ll want to make sure all the members of your family, regardless of age, are optimizing your vitamin D levels (see chart and info here) .

According to studies, mechanical loading — running, jumping, as opposed to swimming or biking — is one of the best strategies to help your kids build excellent bone mass early on.  Being physically active throughout life is important to strong bone. So sports parents you are on the right track! Bones get stronger with exercise because bone tissue is living,and pushing,pulling and creating demand on the bones helps it to grow stronger to promote the ability to handle stronger loads.

Most of  a girl’s peak bone mass, up to 90 percent in fact, will have been acquired  by the time she reaches age 18 — and  boys by age 21.So if your daughter is 14 years of age she is just about complete with developing her bone matrix in the positive or negative.

 

Green leafy vegtables like spinach is always a great choice for a good calcium.

Bottom Line…Food Is Medicine .Take Your Daily Dose For Your Health Today and Tomorrow

Sources:

Yahoo News January 7, 2008

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences January 7, 2008

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