I deal with children’s bones and therefore it is critical for me to comment upon adolescent and teenage bone health, as this has a significant impact on adult bone health. One has to think about a bone as a bank wherein one deposits calcium and essential nutrients during in adolescence and teenage years. This is because when you reach adulthood the natural tendency of bones to lose calcium, making continuous withdrawals from the bank.
More than 25% of the bone stock is built up during the rapid growth phase of the adolescence and by the age of 20, 90% of bone stock is already developed. This makes taking correct lifestyle choices extremely important during this phase.
Important Factors for Healthy Bones
The 3 Key Factors to be kept in mind for this are:
- Lifestyle Choices
Once children make the transition into adolescence, a lot of autonomy comes in terms of choice. Unlike a child, to whom the parents can feed the right diet, a teenager starts to make his/her own dietary choices, reducing the intake of calcium dramatically. Studies show that 9 out of 10 girls and about 7 out of 10 boys in America consume inadequate amounts of calcium during the adolescent years. The primary reason being them making poor choices. There is also substantial peer influence during those years, which again can have a negative impact on bone health. Having body-image issues also propagate wrong eating habits.
It’s critical that bone health is adequately looked after during these years so that as an adult when one goes through the natural evolution of losing calcium, eventually leading to osteoporosis; the process can be delayed as much as possible. Another thing to keep in mind is that children need much more calcium in their teens than they do below the age of 10. They need almost 1300 milligrams of calcium per day which would amount to about 3.5 glasses of milk. The alternatives to milk and milk products are green leafy vegetables like spinach & broccoli, but they do not have the same amount of calcium as milk, making milk the number one source.
The second important factor is taking care of physical activity. This could include simple things like running, team sports, etc. Exercise combined with exposure to sunlight, would take care of your vitamin D requirement (one needs about 600 International units) as well.
The third very important factor to keep in mind is making the right lifestyle choices. Aerated beverages that decrease the calcium absorption, exposure to caffeine, smoking and alcohol consumption all lead to calcium deficiency.
Children and parents should all consider these factors to ensure healthy bones.
A Senior Consultant at the department Pediatric Orthopedics in Fortis Hospital Gurgaon. Dr Manoj Padman’s area of interest lies in treatment of bones ailments, joints and muscles (musculoskeletal system) of children and adolescents, hip pathologies (congenital, developmental, post traumatic sequelae), neuromuscular pathologies, deformity correction Limb reconstruction using external fixators. Dr Manoj Padman has treated several patients suffering from bone diseases in India and gives every patient the best of medical care.
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