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It’s easy to take our bones for granted, but they can break, and they take time to heal – even when we are young. We build almost all our bone density and strength when we’re children and teens. Adults build new bone but more slowly, and over time bones get weaker.
As a parent you can make sure your kids get the three key ingredients for healthy bones: calcium, vitamin D and exercise.
Calcium can be found in dairy products, beans, cereals, some nuts and seed,s and leafy green vegetables. Encourage your kids to eat high-calcium foods. Younger kids may need 2–3 servings of calcium-based products each day, while older kids may need 4 servings.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and can be found in foods such as tuna, cheese, egg yolks, mackerel or salmon, and fortified fruit juices.
Health care providers recommend all kids take a vitamin D supplement if they don’t get enough in their diet. Ask your doctor, nurse practitioner or a dietitian how much vitamin D your child needs and the best way to get it.
Your child’s muscles get stronger the more he/she uses them. The same happens with bones.
Walking, running, jumping and climbing are good for building strong bones, as muscles and gravity put pressure on them. Riding a bike or swimming are great for overall body health, but kids also need to do some kind of weight-bearing exercise for about an hour per day.