Tips for Stronger Bone Health


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?

The amount of calcium your child needs depends on his or her age:

  • 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 child’s diet?

Consider these ideas to increase your child’s calcium intake:

  • 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.

Which foods have the most calcium?

Check out the amount of calcium per serving in these calcium-rich foods:

  • Yogurt (1 cup): 415 mg.
  • Milk (1 cup): 300-377 mg.
  • Cheese (1 oz): 174-272 mg.
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice (8 oz): 300 mg.
  • Calcium-fortified cereals (1 cup): 300 mg.
  • Calcium-fortified tofu (4 oz): 145 mg.
  • Salmon (3 oz): 165 mg.
  • Almonds (1 oz): 66 mg.
  • Kale (1/2 cup cooked): 103 mg.
  • Spinach (1/2 cup cooked): 84 mg.
  • Broccoli (1/2 cup cooked): 68 mg.
  • Chard (1/2 cup cooked): 64 mg.
  • Orange (1 medium): 60 mg.
  • Carrot (1 medium): 27 mg.
  • Raisins (1/4 cup): 22 mg.
  • Corn tortilla (1 medium): 60 mg.
  • Whole wheat bread (1 slice): 25 mg.
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How to build strong bones

90% of bone mass is created by age 20—kids need to build strong bones now or they may not get another chance. Check out this video for bone building tips for kids from Emily Kraus, MD, a pediatric orthopedist at Stanford Medicine Children's Health.

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 (2,500-3,000 IU per day for kids 1-8 years old, and 4,000 IU per day for kids 9 years and older).

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