Are you concerned that your energetic, often reckless child will eventually break a bone? The most important job of a parent is to protect their children and teach them life lessons and self-sufficiency. We spend years trying to keep them from hurting themselves, but it seems they are always flirting with danger.
There is no way to prevent all kids from breaking bones. If your child falls hard enough, or if a limb gets bent the wrong way as they take a tumble, fractures can occur. Breaking a bone doesn’t usually mean the bones are weak. As a parent, you should be proactive and insist on your child wearing specific gear for protection, including helmets, knee pads, shin guards, face gear, wrist bands, and so on. The two most important bone health habits are physical activity and proper nutrition. Eating habits that promote bone health should include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is found in many foods, particularly milk and dairy products. A single 8-ounce glass of milk provides 300 mg of calcium. Don’t forget that orange juice, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, calcium-fortified cereals, ice cream, and white or whole wheat bread all contain calcium. Dietary intake is best for children, however, you may want to consider calcium supplements if you think your child is not eating enough calcium-enriched food.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin since sun exposure helps the body produce this vitamin. Vitamin D-enriched foods won’t be enough to boost the required levels for most people. This vitamin regulates calcium absorption, and our bodies require 400-600 IU per day. There is some crossover amongst food with good calcium enrichment and presence of vitamin D. Stick to yogurt, orange juice, eggs, mushrooms, and soy milk.
The more we use our muscles, the stronger they get. The same is true for our bones, especially during childhood. Any type of exercise is good, but the best activities are weight-bearing activities. Walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer are all beneficial. While swimming and cycling are good for general health, those activities are not as good for building bone density.
Overall, the best way to help your kids develop good habits is to be a good role model. Eat calcium-rich snacks with them, and make sure you do plenty of exercises that will keep you healthy and strong.