We’ve all been told that eating and drinking dairy leads to healthy bones both in childhood and later in life. But is there truth to this statement or is it a case of mistaken food identity?
While some research indicated that dairy can lead to better bone density, it isn’t clear whether it helps reduce bone breaks or not.
Why is bone health so important for kids?
Bone tissue is constantly being removed and replaced with new bone.
A good analogy to consider is that bone generation acts like a bank. During childhood and adolescence, as the skeleton grows in size and density, bone tissue is deposited.
Approximately 90% of our peak bone mass is created and deposited by the age of 18 in girls and 20 in boys. After this, bone tissue is pulled or ‘withdrawn’ from stores when required to assist in the remodelling of old and damaged tissue.
So, it is safe to say that childhood is the most important period for investing in your child’s bone health. To set your child up for a reduced risk of fractures, breaks and bone conditions (such as osteoporosis) later in life, a healthy supply of bone tissue must be available. The more bone tissue that can be generated and stored will lead to a healthier skeleton later in life.
Foods for bone health
Calcium is essential for the development of healthy bones. But did you know that some of the highest sources of calcium aren’t dairy products? Other essential nutrients for bone development include vitamin D, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin K and magnesium.
If you are looking for ways to increase your child’s bone-loving nutrients, why not try one of these 5 dairy-free alternatives.
Almonds contain decent levels of calcium. They also contain protein, healthy fats and vitamin E. Together, these help strengthen bone and cartilage within the body. Almonds are great for an afternoon snack or sprinkle crushed almonds on your family’s salad at dinner time.
Tofu is an excellent source of calcium due to its manufacturing process using calcium salts. Plus it has been shown to have a much higher absorption rate than dairy sources of protein. This is down to the presence of phytoestrogens and vitamin K which assist in directing the calcium directly into the bones. Unlike dairy obtained calcium which can get utilised by other processes such as blood cells and organs.
A good source of both calcium and vitamin K, broccoli is an ideal natural food for bone formation. Looking for a way to make this green vegetable a tasty staple on your family’s dinner plate? Try sprinkling with toasted sesame seeds. Not only does this add a delicious crunch – but sesame seeds contain some of the same bone-loving nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Vitamin C from oranges, along with being an antioxidant, helps the body to make collagen. Collagen acts as a connective tissue that minerals can cling to when bone is formed. Collagen also helps improve bone density and encourages the healthy regeneration of bone tissue.
Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, are good sources of dietary vitamin D which is necessary for the body to be able to effectively absorb calcium from foods. Salmon is also high in the trace mineral selenium which acts as a protective and antioxidant for bone tissue. The recommended guideline is to aim for two serves of oily fish per week.
BONUS: Exercise helps build healthy bones too
One of the biggest determining factors for healthy bone development is regular exercise. In fact, the bone mass gained through physical activity during childhood determines the bone health of your children throughout their life. To help foster healthy bone development it is recommended that kids get between 35 and 60 minutes of exercise each day.
Bone building smoothie
Looking for a tasty and quick way to support your child’s bone building capacity? I’ve put together a signature smoothie, aptly named the L.I.S.A to help fuel your child’s bone development. Have a look here to try the recipe out for yourself.
Are you after nutrition support for your child? Why not book in for a discovery call today to see if there is something I can help you with.