keeping children healthy bones

What You Should Know

Some parents miss out the importance of their children’s bones when they think about their overall health. However, bone development is extremely important. With proper nutritional meals and a healthy lifestyle, your children could prevent osteoporosis, fractures, or other bone disorders in the future.

Osteoporosis is the so-called “a childhood disease with old age consequences”. When parents fail to value the bone health of their children, osteoporosis could start at a very young age and could progress as they get older. The bone mass that has been attained during childhood and adolescence is a huge factor for lifelong skeletal health. The health habits your children are practicing now can make, or literally break their bones as they age.

Factors That Affect Peak Bone Mass

There are factors that can influence your child’s peak bone mass. Some you can change, some you can’t. Here are a few:

  • Race: Compared to white girls, African American girls achieve higher peak bone mass and they have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis as they age. However, no matter what race, it is essential that you should protect your children, girl or boy, against bone diseases.
  • Gender: It’s an obvious fact that a man’s bone mass is typically higher than that of a woman’s. Before hitting puberty, girls and boys develop bone mass at similar rates. After hitting puberty, however, boys tend to acquire greater bone mass than girls.
  • Physical Activity: Being physically active is important for building healthy and strong bones. If a person is active in sports, dancing, or other physical activities, you have lower chances of developing bone disorders.
  • Hormonal Factors: Your child’s hormones, estrogen, and testosterone are essential in their bone mass development. Girls who hit menstruation at an early age have greater bone density while the girls who have irregular menstruation typically have lower bone density.
  • Nutritional Level: Your child’s calcium level plays a vital role in their overall bone health. With a well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, Zinc, and Magnesium, you are assured that your child’s bone health is secured.

Recommended Calcium Intake


AgeAmount of Calcium (Mg)
First 6 months200
6 months to 1 year260
1 year old to 3 years old700
4 years old to 8 years old1,000
9 years old to 18 years old1,300
Adults (Man and Woman)
19 years old to 50 years old1,000
51 years old to 70 years old (males)1,000
51 years old to 70 years old (females)1,200
71 years old and above (both male & female)1,200
Pregnant or Lactating women
14 years old to 18 years old1,300
19 years old to 50 years old1,000
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 2010

Based on this recommended calcium intake chart, are you giving your kids and teenagers enough calcium? As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your child’s bones develop and function well. Make sure that they practice good health habits at an early age.

You can find so many food items that contain calcium. The two most common are milk and dairy products. An 8-ounce glass of milk contains 300 mg of calcium which is about a third of the recommended intake for little kids. For the next section of the blog, we have listed food items that contain calcium. You could incorporate some of these food and beverage items in their daily meals.

bone strengthening foods

Bone Strengthening Foods (Sources of Calcium)

FoodCa (mg)Daily value (%)
Sardines, canned in oil ( 3 oz)32432
Cheddar cheese30631
Non-fat milk (8 fl oz)30230
Low-fat plain yogurt (8 oz)30030
Reduced fat milk (2% milk fat, 8 fl oz)29730
Whole milk (3.25% milk fat, 8 fl oz)29129
Buttermilk (8 fl oz)28529
Lactose-reduced milk (8 fl oz)285 to 30229 to 30
Cottage cheese (2 cups)27628
Part-skimmed mozzarella cheese (½ oz)27528
Tofu (½ cup)20420
Orange juice (6 fl oz)200 to 26020 to 26
Pink salmon, canned (3 oz)18118
Chocolate pudding (2% milk, ½ cup)15315
Frozen yogurt, vanilla (½ cup)10310
Kale, cooked (1 cup)949
Vanilla ice cream (½ cup)858.5
Soy beverage (8 fl oz)80 to 5008 to 50
White bread (1 oz)313
Broccoli, raw (½ cup)212
Whole wheat bread (1 slice)202
Cream cheese (1 tbsp)121
Source: Heaney et al. 2000; USDA 2002


Questions That May Run Inside Your Mind

What if my kids don’t like milk?

There are other sources of calcium aside from plain milk. You can…

  1. Pour cold milk over a tasty cereal for breakfast.
  2. Incorporate milk into a fruit smoothie or milkshake. Use flavors that your children like.
  3. Chocolate milk or cocoa milk can entice your children’s taste buds.
  4. Include an ounce or two of cheese on pizza or a cheeseburger.
  5. A cup of calcium-enriched orange juice.
  6. A small carton of yogurt.
  7. Kale, bok choy, broccoli, almonds, tortillas, or tofu.
  8. Cereal, bread, and juices now have added calcium too.

What if my kid is lactose-intolerant?

Some people have trouble digesting a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products called lactose. The people most affected are older children, adolescents, and adults. It is also most common among African American, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian descent.

Many lactose-intolerant kids can digest milk in small amounts and when combined with other food such as cereal. They may be able to tolerate other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Thanks to innovative and lactose-conscious inventors, lactose-free products are now available in most local stores and supermarkets.

When preparing for your kid’s meals, make sure to include calcium-rich food. Calcium-fortified orange juice, tortilla chips, cereals, almonds, soy beverages, and broccoli with a dip are just a few of the many choices you have. It’s always great to get calcium naturally. However, when necessary, calcium supplements have been proven to be helpful.

My teenager is on a diet! Should I worry?

Having a healthy weight that is proportionate to your kid’s height is important for their overall health. But, so is good nutrition. If your teenager is avoiding any milk and dairy products because they’re scared to get fat, they may be missing out on the benefits of calcium. You have to initiate in providing her good bone nutrition. You can purchase low-fat milk and dairy products. Calcium supplements can also help give your child enough calcium that their body needs.

Should I let my child take calcium supplements?

Most experts would recommend that calcium should be from food sources as much as possible. However, whenever necessary and needed, you can incorporate calcium supplements as part of their daily vitamins.

exercises to strengthen bones

What type of physical activities can my child do for his/her bone health?

The more we use or muscles, the stronger they get. The same goes for our bones. The more physical work they do, the healthier and stronger they get. This is how to make bones strong by exercise. Any kind of physical exercise, no matter how simple (just as long as they get up and get going), is good for your kid.

Here are a few activities that can help strengthen their bones:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Skateboarding
  • Lifting weights
  • Aerobics
  • Jumping rope
  • Biking

How You Can Help Your Kids Live A Positive And Healthy Lifestyle

  • Be your kid’s role model. Eat what you want them to eat and don’t eat what you want them to avoid. Exercise regularly and don’t let see you smoke. If they’ll see you eat unhealthy foods and living an unhealthy lifestyle, chances are, they’ll follow in on your footsteps. Here’s how you can make your kids eat healthy meals.
  • Create calcium-rich foods into family meals.
  • Stock up on calcium-rich snacks that can easily be picked by your kids if they get hungry.
  • Limit their access to sugary drinks and junk food.
  • Help your kids find any physical activities that they’ll love.
  • Impose a strict policy when it comes to watching TV and using their gadgets.
  • Look for early signs of eating disorders so that you can help your kids. This is usually applicable to teenage daughters.
  • Have them annually checked even if they seem fine. Just to be sure.

For further questions contact Pediatric Associates California at (559) 728-4133 for the Fresno office and (559) 673-6085 for the Madera office.