By the time a person reaches the age of 21 they have accumulated 90% of their total bone mass. Your bones are important. They protect the brain, the heart, the lungs and they anchor the muscles. They are our source of mobility! What do you need to do to have strong bones? Well, it’s actually quite simple. You need good nutrition, weight bearing exercise, Calcium and Vitamin D.
Developing and having strong bones starts as a child. It is very important that children receive the adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D for the formation of strong, healthy bones. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) states that during key growth children who do not receive enough calcium and Vitamin D are at a higher risk for weaker bones. This can lead to brittle bones, uneven bone growth, rickets, osteopenia and osteoporosis later in life. A good source of calcium for children is Milk. In the US, milk and many other foods are now fortified with Vitamin D, which is essential for the absorption of calcium. If your child does not like milk, or has a milk intolerance you can seek other sources for calcium such as foods rich in calcium or a calcium supplement. 99% of the calcium you receive as a child is stored in your bones.
Once a child reaches adulthood, around the age of 20, bone growth stops. The time for building bone density has passed and it’s now an important time to maintain and prevent bone loss. Let me give you an idea of how it works. It’s kind of like a bank. As a child, the calcium is “deposited” and stored in your bones. Your body requires dietary calcium on a daily basis. If you do not intake enough calcium through your diet, your body will “withdraw” it from your bones. This can lead to lower calcium levels in the bones over time. There are a few important things that adults can do to ensure strong, healthy bones. Adults should exercise five times a week for at least 30 minutes. They should include some type of weight bearing exercise. Adults should have at least 2 servings of calcium rich foods a day or take a calcium supplement. Also, did you know that smoking also affects a person’s bones? Well it does! Smoking can inhibit the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, which in turn would lead to unhealthy bones. So to ensure strong bones, you may want to kick the cigarette habit.
As far as older adults and seniors go, they should continue good nutritional habits. They should also continue their weight bearing exercises that they started earlier in life. It’s also important for women to have a bone density assessment after menopause. Women lose estrogen after menopause, which leads to thinning of the bones. Men also should get a bone density assessment, but it is not clear as to what age a man should get this done. If you are a man who has experienced height loss you should get this done. Detecting bone loss early is important so that if you are showing bone loss you can start a bone strengthening therapy.
How much calcium is enough? It is recommended that children from birth to 3 years old need 400 to 800 mg of calcium, daily. From 4 to 10 years old they need 800 mg of calcium per day. Adolescents and adults should have 800-1,200 mg of calcium every day. Pregnant females and breast-feeding females need 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium. Be sure you are getting the recommended daily value of Vitamin D to guarantee calcium absorption. And last but not least, make sure you get adequate amounts of all the vitamins and minerals that you need. Vitamins and minerals are one of the keys to good health! It is always a good idea to check with your doctor first before adding a supplement to your daily regimen. Always tell your doctor what supplements you are taking.
For more information on Vitamin D Click HERE
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February 2010, Volume 1, 1, copyrighted