I have been thinking about my little 2 year old’s bones lately. I know it sounds weird but as a doc and mom I think about these things. A decade of working with parents and kids and seeing the results of good vs. poor nutrition choices have my nutrition radar on high alert.
Most of us do not think much about kids’ bone health because we are so busy with life and other health challenges like allergies, colds and flus. A baby at birth has about 300 bones in their tiny body. This little baby will naturally and in a timely manner fuse some of these bones to 206 that we adults have.
As you can imagine, (if you have seen childbirth) a baby’s bones are soft at birth. A baby’s neck at birth is flexible and can’t hold steady until a few months later. As the child grows, the cartilage (soft and flexible baby bones) grows into strong bones with the help of mom’s breast milk or special baby formula enriched with calcium and other nutrients.
According to NIH (National Institute of Health), the bones are the framework for your child’s growing body. Bone is living tissue that changes constantly, with bits of old bone being removed and replaced by new bone.
So this is the bone equation from childhood to adolescence:
Bone bank account= kids make deposits – withdrawals of bone tissue
The deposits are greater than the withdrawals during this time as the bone mass grows in size and density with mommy’s help and proper nutrition. 90% of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 for girls and 20 for boys. (Source: NIH)
How are we depositing and investing in our kids’ bone health?
Here are three tips:
One: Get moving and exercising
We need to use every part of our body each day to make it stronger. Any type of sports, exercises, dances, outdoor or indoor activities that involve moving will be great for kids’ bone health. They don’t need weight lifting exercises at a young age because the body may not be ready and it could be damaging.
Two: Foods rich in calcium
Serve kids with calcium rich foods. I know this is the tricky part but foods like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, butternut squash, salmon, sardines, yogurt, cottage cheese, dried figs, chick peas, black turtle beans, almond milk and more.
I disagree with the experts on cow’s milk. I don’t think it is good or the best absorbable calcium for our children. I think it can lead to worsened allergies and respiratory issues. If you are going to drink cow’s milk make sure it’s organic or even try Kefir as it is good for the belly and calcium absorption.
I admit I can’t get my son to eat all this. Some days he will eat a whole bowl of broccoli and other days he won’t. Here are my tricks…
SHAKES: I make some delicious shakes with calcium rich almond or coconut milk, a little Kefir or yogurt, water, a healthy protein powder with calcium in it. I may add almond butter and half of a banana. Then I add one of those green veggies from above. It is soooo delicious. I make it for the whole family. Then I know my little guy is getting 45-75% of his calcium needs in just this one shake.
I just learned that spinach in a shake can reduce the absorption of calcium in the shake… Spinach is still great for us but don’t put it in a shake if you are making it for your family’s calcium needs.
But even with this great shake I still will give my little guy a great vitamin too.
Three: Nutritional Supplements
With the nature of our food production today, (meaning doesn’t have the same amount of healthy vitamin and minerals it had just 25 years ago) kids of any age need nutritional supplements. Here is our list:
KidScents Mighty Vites delivers a full spectrum natural (whole foods) of vitamins, minerals and calcium. For your information, here is a list of ingredients:
Vitamins A (retinyl palmitate), C (sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid), D3 (Cholecaliciferol), and E (d-alpha tocopheryl acid succinate), thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, and potassium. Sweetened with fructose, sorbitol, and stevia in a base of wolfberry, bee pollen, inositol, and the essential oils of lime (Citrus aurantifolia), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), and orange (Citrus sinensis) in a Synergistic Suspension Isolation (HPC-Hydrolyzed Protein Complex).
Joshie loves these vitamins and he actually asks for more even after he’s had his daily serving. I have to admit I eat one too and they are delicious.
USDA reports that teen girls and boys fail to meet recommended daily intake of calcium. Are we helping our kids with the right food and nutrition to grow healthy bones? How can we help?
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