Tips for Stronger Bone Health

Calcium

86% of teen girls aren’t getting enough calcium. Since 95% of our bone mass is set by the time we turn 20, getting the right amount of daily calcium as teens is crucial.

How much calcium do kids and teens need?

  • Kids 4-8 years old need 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
  • Kids 9-18 years old need 1,300 mg of calcium per day.

How can I get more calcium in my kids’ diet?

  • Use milk instead of water when you cook hot cereals.
  • Add shredded cheese to spaghetti sauce, frozen pizza before baking, salads before tossing and casseroles just before taking out of the oven.
  • Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream on baked potatoes.
  • Use yogurt as a delicious dip for raw vegetables.
  • Try orange juice with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Calcium is best absorbed if consumed throughout the day.
  • If your child isn’t getting enough calcium through diet alone, we recommend using a calcium carbonate supplement.
best sources of calcium table

Vitamin D

Three in four U.S. teens don’t get enough vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium. Kids and teens should get 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day. Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle fatigue and weakness. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, where bones become soft and bend.

How can I get more vitamin D in my kids’ diet?

  • Very few foods naturally have vitamin D. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are among the best sources of vitamin D.
  • Cheese and egg yolks contain small amounts of vitamin D.
  • Almost all U.S. milk is fortified with vitamin D, but foods made from milk, like ice cream, are usually not fortified.
  • The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. The best way to get the daily recommended amount of vitamin D is a 15-minute walk in the sun. If you’re spending more time than that in the sun, remember to cover up and wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.
  • If your child isn’t getting enough vitamin D through diet alone, vitamin D3 supplements work best. Avoid the upper limit to prevent vitamin D poisoning:
    • 1-8 years old: 2,500-3,000 IU per day
    • 9 years and older: 4,000 IU per day

To learn more about our nutrition and athletic training services to help young athletes build strong bones, call (844) 41-ORTHO (67846).