What do we want? Strong bones! When do we want them? Now! How do we get ‘em? Let me tell you!
Bone health is important for people of all ages. We are born with 300 bones in the body, and by the time we reach adulthood, we have 206 bones, each with specific functions that, when combined, allow us to move, bend, and perform the way we want.
Don’t be concerned about the “lack” of bones in the adult body, though. The reason for this is just that as our bodies grow, some bones fuse together to create longer, denser ligaments that are capable of doing more work. And the large quantity of bones in young children simply means that this is the time to optimize bone density. Bone density increases until about age 25, and decreases from there. So, parents and influencers of young children should be mindful of this when feeding kids, and especially young athletes, who require the use of their bones regularly.
Eating enough food is one of the most important aspects of bone health. When we don’t eat enough, bones are broken down to create energy for the body to use. Luckily, most young kids are quite intuitive so they are able to listen to their body and ask for food when their body signals hunger. But, it’s a parent/guardian’s responsibility to have foods that promote bone health available when their hunger strikes. And what are these foods? These are foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin K such as eggs, dairy products, beans, and green vegetables.
Another bone building element is the outdoors! Being outside provides large amounts of vitamin D, which increases the bodies’ absorption of calcium – a key component of bone formation and maintenance.
As far as bone-building meals go, try offering eggs or yogurt for breakfast, a burrito with beans for lunch, and maybe steamed vegetables with meat or tofu for dinner. “Bone”-appetit!